INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
KEELINGS LOGISTICS SOLUTIONS
- AND -
REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Ms Cryan
Worker Member: Mr Shanahan
1. An Appeal of a Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-144663-Ir-12/Jt
2. The Claimant was employed as a Warehouse Team Manager by the Respondent. The Claimant was demoted from his position following a failed Health & Safety Audit for which the Claimant was responsible.
- This matter was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and Recommendation. On the14th January, 2015 the Rights Commissioner issued the following Recommendation:-
I have considered the submissions of both parties. The Claimant was aware that an audit was to take place. The fact of the damaged racking pallets is not in dispute and the audit failed as a result. The Respondent disciplinary procedure clearly states that 'Failure to carry out a fundamental aspect of a job' is serious/gross misconduct.
The Claimant made an error of judgement and misprioritised his role by attending the meeting that day. However, given the Claimant's employment record, the Respondent shuold consider reviewing the case in one years' time from the date of the demotion.
On the19th January, 2015 the Claimant 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 13th March, 2015.
3. 1. The Claimant is an experienced Warehouse Team Manager, he set about undertaking the duties proper to his role in line with custom and practice.
2. The Claimant left his position to attend a meeting that he believed would take approximately 20 minutes however due to circumstances beyond his control he was significantly longer.
3. The Claimant accepts responsibility for his actions and understands that some sanction had to be imposed but feels that given his employment record the decision taken by management to demote him was very harsh and unwarranted and unnecessary.
4. 1. The Respondent says that the Claimant being an experienced Manager should not have left his position on the morning of an audit and should not have signed off on the 'safe and legal book' to say that he had carried out the checks when he later admitted he had asked another colleague to do so.
2. The Respondent says that the Claimant was not required at the scene of the emergency on the day but that he stayed in the vicinity while another manager tended to his colleague.
3. The Respondent's position is that the Claimant's negligence on the day not only failed the on-site audit but could have caused a very serious injury or even fatality
This is an appeal by the Union on behalf of a Claimant against a Rights Commissioner’s Recommendation which found that a disciplinary sanction imposed on him should be reviewed one year after the Company demoted him for his failure to carry out a fundamental aspect of his duties. The Union sought reinstatement of the Claimant to the position of Warehouse Team Manager with effect from 11thDecember 2014 at which time he had completed one year of the sanction.
The Union submitted that by demoting the Claimant to General Operative, the Company had imposed a sanction in perpetuity which in all the circumstances of this case was excessive, unnecessary and unwarranted, particularly taking account of his previous exemplary record.
The Company submitted that the breach of duties by the Claimant was deemed to come within the realm of gross misconduct and accordingly warranted a severe disciplinary sanction.
Having examined the details of this case and having considered the submissions made by both parties the Court concurs with the Rights Commissioner’s Recommendation that the sanction should be reconsidered and is of the view that a demotion in perpetuity is excessive in the circumstances. Therefore, the Court recommends that the Claimant should be reinstated in his role as Warehouse Team Manager with effect from the date of this Decision.
Accordingly, the Court varies the Rights Commissioner’s Recommendation and upholds the appeal in part.
The Court so Decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th March, 2015______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ceola Cronin, Court Secretary.