INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
CLARE COUNTY COUNCIL
REPRESENTED BY THE LOCAL GOVERNMENT MANAGEMENT AGENCY
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr Shanahan
1. Dignity at work
2. This case concerns a dispute between Clare County Council (represented by the LGMA) and SIPTU in relation to an investigation into complaints made against the worker. The Union contends that the investigation has not been carried out in compliance with fair procedures. It further contends that the investigation has been ongoing for years without conclusion and that it is in the best interests of all involved for the investigation to be deemed closed.
Management contends that the investigation is almost complete and any issues which the worker wishes to raise can be done through the appropriate appeal mechanism.
On the 14th June 2013, the Union referred the matter to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's Recommendation. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 23rd October 2013
3 1The Union considers it inappropriate that the HR Department was involved in the investigation on the basis that the Human Resource Manager was one of the complainants.
2 There were significant delays in providing the worker with the required information. These delays make it impossible for the investigation to be concluded in an acceptable timeframe.
3 It is inappropriate that both disciplinary matters and dignity at work investigations be held concurrently. The worker is seeking that the disciplinary matters be suspended until the completion of the dignity at work investigation.
4 1 The HR Department would always be involved in investigations on the basis that it provides administrative support to all parties if required.
2 The delays that occurred were mostly as a result of delays on the part of the worker in providing agreed documents to the investigation.
3 The worker can raise any issues in relation to the investigation after the report on the dignity at work investigation has been finalised.
The matter before the Court was brought under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 and concerns a claim for the suspension and closure of an investigation conducted under the Council’s Dignity at Work Policy into complaints made against the Claimant. The Union, on behalf of the Claimant, complained about the length of time it has taken so far to carry out this investigation. The process commenced in December 2010 and the Union contended that at this stage it should now be closed off in the interests of natural justice. It also had difficulty with the Human Resource Manager’s involvement in the process as he was one of the complainants involved. Furthermore, the Union objected to the methodology being deployed by the Council due to the Council’s interlinking of disciplinary issues with the dignity at work investigation.
The Council stated that significant delays were attributed to the Claimant’s numerous clarification requests and questioning of the role of HR in the process. It stated that the disciplinary issues were separated from the dignity at work investigation at an early stage and that it was awaiting the outcome of the latter investigation which was now nearing completion.
Having considered the submissions of both parties the Court recommends that the investigation should be concluded in a timely fashion and any outstanding matters of concern which were raised in the course of the hearing before the Labour Court, which the parties consider were not addressed by the investigating team, can be addressed in any appeal that may be lodged.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th November 2013______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.