INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
FIRESEAL CONTRACTS LTD
(REPRESENTED BY PENINSULA BUSINESS SERVICES (IRELAND) LTD)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal Against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-042953-IR-06/JT.
2. The issue involves a claim by a worker that the Company did not follow proper consultation procedures regarding re-location of their business premises. The Company employed the worker up to June 2006 at its premises in Dun Laoghaire. The Company have since relocated to Tallaght. The worker was aware that the Company was moving location but no specific timeframe was put on the move until May 2006. The Company had hoped that all of its employees would relocate with the Company as it was not moving too great a distance. The worker wished at all times to relocate with the Company but was unable to commit to the move until able to re - organise certain domestic circumstances. No formal written notice was given to employees at the Company as to the re-location as the Company had always operated a very 'hands on' policy with employees. The Company made clear the date of the re-location to their employees. The Company expressed its regret that in this instance the worker concerned did not relocate with the Company. The matter was referred to the Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On 6th October 2006, the Rights Commissioner issued his Recommendation as follows:
" I am not satisfied that the respondent in any way, shape or form conformed to this legislation. Also, in regard to their obligation on the consultation and information directive, this was equally ignored by the respondent.
Having considered the company's offer of an ex-gratia payment and the claimant's statutory entitlement I have considered what would be the norm for somebody being in the position of general manager would receive in what effectively turned out to be a compulsory redundancy situation. I have therefore decided to recommend that the claimant receive a sum of €22,500 in compensation for loss of employment by the respondent."
On the 7th December 2006, the Company appealed the Rights Commissioner 's Recommendation to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 18th April 2007.
3. 1 The worker was aware that the Company was moving but the location and date were not provided. No formal discussions took place with the worker despite the obligations placed on the Company under the Information and Consultation Act. The trust of the legislation requires companies to communicate with all their employees on all such matters affecting their employment.
2 In May 2006 the worker instigated a meeting with the Company to discuss the future. Informal talks took place between the parties and at no stage did the worker indicate any unwillingness to relocate with the Company. The Company inferred on numerous occasions during this process that because of the worker's personal circumstances the worker would not be moving with them and stated they would offer her redundancy.
3 It was the worker's intention to continue with this Company. Adequate time was needed for the worker to consider the options but this was denied. The worker was given 24 hours to accept an offer of €5000 plusstatutory redundancy. This is an indication of the Company's attitude in dealing with the issue. The worker was told to accept the offer or leave the Company. This is tantamount to summary dismissal.
4. 1 The Company denies that consultation did not take place with the worker. The worker was kept informed at each stage of the process concerning the re-location of the Company to new premises in Tallaght. The worker was invited to view the two proposed new sites. The worker was consulted on how the move to the Tallaght site may affect her circumstances.
2 The Company was more than happy to consider flexi-time and a reduced working day to cover travelling time for the worker. The Respondent knew that the Company move date was the 5th June 2006. She had been to visit the site at Tallaght after the move date had been confirmed. The Company also was in communication with the Union on various occasions as can be seen by the various correspondence between the Company and SIPTU.
3 It is the Company's case that an argument could be raised that suitable alternative employment was offered to the worker and refer the Labour Court to the case Liam Caulfield V Dunnes Stores RP663/2003 where it was held to be suitable employment. The Company has at all times been willing to pay the worker her entitlement to a redundancy payment and an ex-gratia payment of €5000. This offer was again communicated to SIPTU in April 2007 but was refused by the worker.
The Court notes that the parties agree that the Claimant's employment terminated in circumstances of redundancy. Accordingly the substance of the dispute concerns the level of ex-gratia redundancy pay which the Claimant should receive.
The amount recommended by the Rights Commissioner is not out of line with the amount recommended by the Court in similar situations. Accordingly the Court is of the view that the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation that the Claimant receive a total of €22,500, inclusive of her statutory entitlements, is reasonable and should be affirmed.
The appeal is disallowed and the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is upheld.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
4th May 2007______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to David P Noonan, Court Secretary.