INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
HEFFERNAN FOSKIN SOLICITORS
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Ms Doyle
Worker Member: Ms Tanham
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-138482-IR-13/EH.
2. The case before the Court concerns the Worker's appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-138482-IR-13/EH. The dispute relates specifically to the Worker's claim that she was treated in an inequitable manner by her Employer during a period of time when her Employer placed her on short-time working hours and simultaneously hired an intern who carried out duties that were appropriate to the role of the Worker. It is the Worker's contention that she has suffered a significant financial loss due to the reduction in her working hours and was essentially displaced by the intern. The Employer rejects the Worker's claim arguing that it had a business need to reduce the Worker's hours. Furthermore, the intern did not carry out any duties appropriate to the Worker's book-keeper role. Agreement could not be reached between the parties. The matter was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On the 21st May 2014, the Rights Commissioner issued his Recommendation as follows:
"For the above stated reasons I recommend that this claim should fail".
On the 19th June 2014 the Worker appealed the Rights Commissioners 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 15th October, 2014.
3.1. The Union on behalf of its member contends that the work carried out by the intern was appropriate to the role of the Worker and should have been offered to the Worker at a time when her hours of work had been reduced.
2. The Worker has suffered a significant loss in earnings and is seeking compensation as a result. In addition, the Worker is seeking first refusal on any available work until such a time that she is restored to full-time working hours.
4.1. The Employer had no alternative other than to reduce the Worker's hours in an effort to secure its future viability.
2. The Employer maintains that the intern carried out duties that were not appropriate to the Worker's role.
It is accepted that the Claimant worked exclusively as a bookkeeper and that the person taken on through the intern scheme did not undertake bookkeeping duties. In these circumstances the Court does not believe that the union’s claim for compensation can be conceded.
The Court is of the view that the employer should offer the claimant such general office / secretarial work as may become available and for which she is qualified and suitable. In that event the claimant should be paid in respect of that work at the appropriate rate.
The Rights Commissioner recommendation is varied accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th October 2014______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Sharon Cahill, Court Secretary.