EMPLOYMENT APPEALS TRIBUNAL
CLAIM(S) OF: CASE NO.
Gerard Mulqueen - Claimant UD1259/2012
Prometric Ireland Ltd T/A Prometric - Respondent
UNFAIR DISMISSALS ACTS, 1977 TO 2007
I certify that the Tribunal
(Division of Tribunal)
Chairman: Mr P. Hurley
Members: Mr T. Gill
Mr F. Dorgan
heard this claim at Limerick on 4th June 2014
Claimant(s) : Mr Pat O’Donoghue, SIPTU, Liberty Hall, Eden Quay, Dublin 1
Respondent(s) : Mr Alan Haugh BL instructed by A & L Goodbody, Solicitors, I.F.S.C., North
Wall Quay, Dublin 1
The respondent is a worldwide test administration company. It operates computerised testing centres and provides a theory test for learner drivers. The claimant was employed by the respondent from October 2003 as a mobile driver tester in the Cork hub location.
The Tribunal heard evidence from the vice-president and general managers of the Irish operation that the volume of work and revenue had decreased by over 40% from 2010 to 2012 in the Irish operation. The company operated four hubs in Ireland based in Dundalk, Sligo, Naas and Cork. As a result of the decrease in business the company had to take action to control costs. The company looked at changing their cost structure over a three month period from February 2012. All employees were kept informed of this process through an employee forum meeting in March 2012. Employees were kept informed through their three forum representatives that the company had to look at its operation with a view to operating more efficiently. The role of the forum was to act as conduit for communication to employees and the Tribunal heard evidence that all employees were circulated with the minutes of the aforementioned March 2012 meeting.
Following this three month review period a decision was made to reduce staffing levels in the Sligo and Cork locations with two positions in Cork and one in Sligo identified as being at risk of redundancy. The company had looked at alternative to redundancies such as reduced hours of all employees but this would not have achieved the cost savings required and had they done so inefficient practices would have remained. As the company employed four testers in the Cork location the company designed a selection criteria matrix under five headings which had previously been used by the company in the UK office. The claimant was not consulted in relation to the design of the matrix. This selection criteria was based on performance, adaptability & flexibility, disciplinary, attendance and knowledge skills and experience.
The company met with the four Cork employees at a hotel location in Cork on 17 May 2012 and the matrix scoring system was completed on that date. Following this process the company met with each employee individually later on the same day and employees were informed of the outcome. The claimant had scored the least amount of points and accordingly he was notified that his position was to be made redundant. He was paid in lieu of his notice and was not required to work his notice period. The claimant subsequently appealed the decision to make him redundant and an appeal hearing was conducted on 21 June 2012 by the AVP & Country Manager for UK & Ireland. The claimant was represented by his trade union official at the appeal hearing. The Tribunal heard evidence from the AVP & Country Manager-UK & Ireland that he was satisfied that the redundancy selection criteria had been applied equally. He gave evidence that the claimant did not raise any bullying issues at the appeal hearing and the decision to make him redundant was upheld. He was paid his redundancy entitlement of €9,318.00.
The claimant gave evidence that he commenced working for the respondent company on 3 October 2003. He was employed on a 20 hours per month contract but in reality he generally worked 170 hours per month. He was initially based in Limerick and subsequently moved to the Cork office. He told the Tribunal that there was never any slackness in his workload.
He gave evidence that he had no advance warning of the meeting of 17 May 2012. He told the Tribunal that he never received any communication form the aforementioned employee forum. He was only informed of the redundancy process at the meeting of 17 May 2012 and had no prior knowledge of the criteria used for selection for redundancy. When he was shown the selection matrix he objected to the headings on the matrix but the headings remained in place.
He gave evidence that following the initial meeting on 17 May 2012 where his scores were allocated on the matrix a 15 minute break ensued. He was then invited back to a meeting and told that he was being made redundant with immediate effect. He had no representation at these meetings. He then contacted his trade union representative and appealed the decision. A subsequent appeal hearing took place on 21 June 2012 but the decision to make him redundant was upheld.
He gave evidence that he was willing to reduce his hours and he had previously covered the Naas office but these considerations were not taken into account by the company. He has been unemployed since the termination of his employment and has since returned to study. He is currently sitting exams.
The Tribunal carefully considered the oral and documentary evidence adduced at the hearing. The Tribunal considers that the procedures used to effect the claimant’s dismissal by way of redundancy were flawed. In particular the Tribunal notes that on 17 May 2012 the claimant was requested to attend a meeting where the gravity of the company’s financial position was outlined. The company then informed the claimant that his position along with two other employees was to be made redundant and in so doing produced a matrix that was adopted by the company to effect the redundancies. The claimant had no previous knowledge of the content of the matrix, its significance or its implications for his continuing employment. He was given no opportunity to examine, query or object to the matrix.
In those circumstances the Tribunal finds that the claimant was unfairly dismissed and awards compensation in the sum of €25,000.00 under the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 to 2007. This award is in addition to the redundancy payment already made to the claimant.
Sealed with the Seal of the
Employment Appeals Tribunal