INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
DEPAUL TRUST IRELAND
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-044872-IR-06/TB
2. The Depaul Trust was established in Ireland in 2002 and works with homeless and marginalised people. The worker concerned started employment in September, 2003, as a Projects Manager. He applied for the position of Low Threshold Manager (LTM) in Aungier Street in September, 2005, but was unsuccessful. In early 2006 a number of workers made allegations of bullying and harassment against the worker. As a result the worker was suspended with full pay on the 22nd of March, 2006, pending an investigation. A disciplinary hearing chaired by the Director of Services took place on the 19th of May, 2006. The result was that the worker was issued with a first written warning to remain on file for six months. The worker appealed the decision to the Chief Executive of the Trust but the decision was upheld.
The Union referred the case to a Rights Commissioner and his recommendation was as follows:
"Based on the submissions of the parties and on the discussions at the hearing it is quite clear that the disciplinary policy of the respondent party should be reviewed and any review should involve SIPTU. I recommend that a joint review of the policy should take place.
In the circumstances of this case I believe that the period of four months' suspension even with pay was both excessive and demoralising for the claimant. I recommend that he be paid €500 in compensation."
The Union appealed the Rights Commissioner's recommendation to the Labour Court on the 27th March, 2007, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act,1969.A Labour Court hearing took place on the 7th of August, 2007.
3. 1. The worker denies that he was guilty of bullying or harassment. The individual on whose behalf the employer upheld the allegation of bullying made it clear to the investigation that he did not feel in any way bullied.
2. The worker was not given the opportunity for proper representation from the beginning in accordance with the Trust's own policies.
3. The disciplinary policy states that all disciplinary problems should be dealt with quickly and effectively yet the worker was on suspension for four months and then only issued with a first written warning.
4. 1. The Trust is obliged to investigate every claim of bullying and harassment even if the claim is withdrawn. The decision to suspend the worker with full pay is in line with the management's policy and procedures. The Trust apologised to the worker for the protracted investigation.
2. The Trust has accepted the Rights Commissioner's recommendation to revise its disciplinary procedures and has been in talks with the Union.
Having considered the submissions of the parties the Court considers the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner to be appropriate in the circumstances.
The Court notes that the parties are prepared to agree the terms of a letter to be sent to the claimant which will confirm that no inference nor imputation should be drawn from the duration of the suspension and that, on the facts of the case, the duration of the suspension was excessive.
With that caveat, the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner is affirmed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th August, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.