INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 7(1), PAYMENT OF WAGES ACT, 1991
DEPT OF THE ENVIRONMENT
DEPT OF PUBLIC EXPENDITURE & REFORM
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Ms Doyle
Worker Member: Mr McCarthy
1. Appeal Of Adjudication Officer Decision No ADJ-00000506/RMcG.
2. The employee appealed the Decision of the Adjudication Officer to the Labour Court on the 14th June, 2016. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 3rd August, 2016. The following is the Court's Determination:
This is an appeal by Mr James Deeney against an Adjudication Officer’s Decisions under the Payment of Wages Act, 1991 (the Act). The complaint relates to a claim where he alleges that unlawful deductions were made from his salary by his former employer(s), Department of the Environment, Community & Local Government & Department of Public Expenditure & Reform from August 1988 until the date of his retirement on 2nd June 2006. The deductions he referred to related to contributions he was obliged to make under the Civil Service Spouses and Children Superannuation Scheme. The Adjudication Officer found that the claim was out of time.
The Complainant suffers from a psychiatric illness and contended that due to the severity of his illness that he could never form a relationship or marry, accordingly he submitted that he could never benefit from the Civil Service Spouses and Children Superannuation Scheme, which he was compelled to join in 1982. He retired on 2ndJune 2006.
Summary of the Complainant’s Case
The Complainant presented his case to the Court. He informed the Court that he submitted an appeal to the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform (the Minister) in July 2015, seeking a refund of the contributions he had paid to the Scheme, however, in a letter dated 16thOctober 2015 from the Minister, his appeal was turned down. This rejection, he contended, was a further breach of the Act, thereby bringing his complaint within time.
Summary of the Respondent’s Position
Ms Hillary contended that the Complainant’s complaint was submitted out of time within the meaning of Section 6(4) of the Act. The Complainant retired on 2ndJune 2006 and did not submit his complaint under the Act until 11thNovember 2015, almost ten years after the last deduction was made. Ms Hillary submitted that the rejection by the Minister in October 2015 affirming the decision not to refund payments did not fall within the definition of “deductions” from wages and as such was not relevant to the complaint.
Section 5 of the Act renders unlawful any deduction from an employee’s wages unless that deduction is authorised by the section.Section 6(4) of the Act provides, in effect, that a complaint may not be entertained by an Adjudication Officer (or the Court on appeal) unless it is presented within a period of 6 months beginning on the date of the contravention to which the complaint relates. This period may be extended by a further 6 months. The practical effect of this provision is that the Court has no jurisdiction to entertain a complaint that was presented outside these time limits.
The Court is satisfied that the rejection of the Complainant’s appeal to the Minister in October 2015 cannot amount to a ‘deduction’ from his wages within the meaning of Section 5 of the Act.
Accordingly, as the complaint under the Act was not referred by the Complainant to the Workplace Relations Commission until November 2015, almost ten years after such deductions were made, it was therefore referred outside the statutory time limit after the alleged contravention occurred and cannot be entertained.
The Court finds that the Complainant’s complaint under the Act is statute barred and the Court has no jurisdiction to hear it. Accordingly, the Court upholds the Adjudication Officer’s Decision and rejects the appeal.
The Court so Determines.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
11th August 2016______________________
Enquiries concerning this Determination should be addressed to Jason Kennedy, Court Secretary.