INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Deprivation Of Shares Promised To Ex-ESB Employees Under The ESOP Scheme.
2. This dispute concerns a claim by the Claimant that he was deprived of shares promised to ex-ESB employees under the Employee Shared Ownership Scheme (ESOP).
The Claimant referred his case to the Labour Court on 16th April, 2008, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Worker agreed to be bound by the Court's Recommendation. A Labour Court hearing took place on 17th September, 2008.
3. 1. As the Claimant was working in Syria the ESB should have sent the Contract of Participation to him in Syria.
2. The Claimant had instructed his wife not to open his personal post while he was working abroad.
3.The ESB did not ask the Claimant for a forwarding address.
4. 1. The terms of the ESOP is a legal document and sets out the requirements for participation of the scheme. All eligible participants were issued with a Contract of Participation which had to be completed and returned to the ESB within fifteen weeks in order to be legally entitled to receive a notional alocation of shares.
2. The Contract of Participation was sent to the Worker in February 2002, but did not come to light until 2006.
3.The ESB is not responsible for the Claimant's failure to arrange for his correspondence to be opened while he was absent from the country.
The matter before the Court under section 20(i) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 concerns a claim by the worker that he was deprived of shares promised to ex-ESB employees under the Employee Share Ownership Scheme (ESOP). He states that the letter of participation sent out on 11th February 2002, when he was working in Syria did not come to his attention until 2006, four years later.
The claimant had been employed with ESB until 1996, when he availed of the Costs And Competitiveness Review Agreement and availed of a “redundancy package”, which subsequently, included participation in the ESOP scheme. After 1996 he worked for ESB International (with the exception of one twelve month period when he worked for another international company in Syria), working in various countries around the world.
All eligible ESOP participants were issued with a Contract of Participation in February 2002, which had to be completed and returned to the ESB within fifteen weeks following execution of the trust deed. As the worker did not sign the required Contract of Participation within the stipulated time he was not allocated shares.
ESB management stated that ESB ESOP Trustees, at the relevant time, went to extensive lengths to try and ensure that all eligible employees (including the claimant) returned the form within the required timeframe.
The worker was resident in and working at the remote Al Zara Syria project in February 2002, when ESB sent out the ESOP documentation for his signature. He maintained that there was an onus on ESB to ensure that the ESB ESOP Trustees had a proper address to which to send the necessary documentation to him.
Having considered the submissions of both sides the Court notes that the worker accepts that the documentation was sent to the address he provided to the Company – his home address in Ireland at which his wife continued to reside while he was working abroad. The Court notes that the claimant did not at any stage give details of a forwarding address to ESB, but was satisfied for all post to be sent to his home address with instructions that personal/confidential post should not be opened while he was absent from the country. Therefore, the Court must conclude that as the documentation in question was forwarded to the address provided, there was no further onus on ESB to endeavour to contact him.
Accordingly, the Court does not find in favour of the worker’s claim. The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th September, 2008______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jonathan McCabe, Court Secretary.