INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
PADRAIC DELANEY AND KARENA DELANEY
(REPRESENTED BY COLEMAN & CO SOLICITORS)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-045670-Ir-06/JT
2. The employers own the Maxol Petrol Station/Shop in Westport which they took over from the previous owner in May, 2007. The worker was employed in the deli department of the business. The employer's case is that they received a number of complaints from customers regarding the worker's behaviour in that it was "snappy and short". After observing the worker's manner in dealing with customers they decided to have an informal meeting with her on the 28th of June, 2005. They claim that the worker left the meeting hastily. The following day they received a sick certificate from her stating that she would be out sick for a week. The employers did not hear from the worker again but received letters from the Union on the 6th and 12th of July, 2005, asking them to either substantiate the allegations or withdraw them. The employer's reply was that they could not do so as no disciplinary action had been taken against the worker. The employers had no further dealings with the worker and presumed that she had left her employment. However in October, 2005, and January, 2006 they received medical certificates from the worker.
The case was referred to a Right Commissioner and a hearing took place on the 24th May, 2006. The Union's case is that at the hearing the employers withdrew their complaint and that the worker was to return to her job once her doctor approved her condition. A doctor's letter was sent to the employer stating that the worker would return within 3 - 6 months. The employer waited until July, 2006 but when they heard nothing further from the worker they issued her with a P45, terminating her employment.
The case was referred back to the Rights Commissioner and his recommendation was as follows:
"Having considered the submissions made by the parties I observed that the claimant was entitled to know the specific complaints from the individuals who made the complaints. She would have been entitled to this under SI 146 (2000) of the Industrial Relations Act. I note that the claimant had been absent from work due to illness for a significant period of time and that the certs were not sent regularly to the respondent.
I therefore award the claimant €1,200 for lack of fair procedures under SI 146 (2000)."
The worker appealed the Rights Commissioner's recommendation to the Labour Court on the 23rd of July, 2007, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 23rd November, 2007, in Westport.
3. 1. The worker was very upset by the allegations and suffered stress and anxiety. She was under the doctor's care and could not return to work.
2.She was entitled to know who made the allegations against her. She wanted the opportunity to apologise if she had said something that could be construed as insulting.
3. The worker suffered a loss of approximately €17,600 as a result of being on sick leave for 15 months.
4. 1. The employers made no formal allegations against the worker and this was made clear to her. They had an informal meeting with her about her manner in dealing with customers. They did not want to get the customers involved as no action had been taken.
2. The employer tried to enter into negotiations with the Union after the Rights Commissioner's hearing but the Union did not revert to them.
The worker appealed the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner on the basis that he should have taken account of her loss of earnings and consequently should have recommended a payment of €17,600.
Having considered the submissions of both sides the Court sees no ground to amend the findings and recommendation of the Rights Commissioner and therefore, it upholds his recommendation. Accordingly, the worker’s appeal fails.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th December, 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.