INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY INMO)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Ms Cryan
Worker Member: Mr McCarthy
1. Appeal of Adjudication Officer's Recommendation No. R-158247-IR-15/EH.
2. The case before the Court concerns the Worker's appeal of an Adjudication Officer's Recommendation No. R-158247-IR-15/EH. The dispute relates specifically to the Worker's claim for compensation for loss of earnings as a result of a period of sick leave and a subsequent reduction in working hours. It is the Worker's claim that he was subjected to an inordinate delay and a flawed investigation by his Employer into complaints raised by him. The matter was referred to an Adjudication Officer for investigation and recommendation. On the 23rd March, 2016 the Adjudication Officer issued his recommendation as follows:
"1. Delay in carrying out the investigation
I award the Complainant €1,750 compensation for the inexcusable delay in carrying out and concluding the investigation in a timely manner. This is to be paid within six weeks of the date below.
In view of the fact that the Respondent engaged with the Complainant following the issuing of the final report I recommend that they provide a brief written response to the Complainant's comments on the final report. This is to be done within six weeks of the date below.
3. Loss of earnings
Based on the above findings I recommend that that part of the claim fails".
On the 29th April, 2016 the Worker appealed the Recommendation of the Adjudication Officer to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on 21st June, 2016.
3. 1. The Union is seeking compensation for the loss of earnings incurred by the Worker during a period of sick leave and a further period of decreased working hours.
2. The Union contends that the extreme delays in the carrying out of the investigation had a significantly negative impact on the Worker's health and well-being and resulted in him being absent from the workplace for a prolonged period of time.
3. The Union further contends that the Worker has been actively seeking to return to full-time working hours in a location closer to his home.
4. 1. The Employer accepts the delay in the investigation and has implemented the recommendation of the Adjudication Officer on this matter.
2. The Employer asserts that the Worker was offered full-time working hours upon his return to work but as he was dissatisfied with the location of his base he opted to work reduced hours.
3. The Employer maintains that it is making every effort to return the Worker to full-time hours at a location closer to his home.
This is an appeal by the INMO on behalf of an employee against an Adjudication Officer's Recommendation. The Claimant sought compensation for loss of earnings as a result of sick leave incurred following his referral of a formal complaint under the Dignity at Work Scheme. The Union submitted claims in respect of loss of earnings to date, also sought compensation for the stress, suffering and ill health experienced by the Claimant due to Management's alleged mishandling of the investigation. It stated that the Claimant had repeatedly sought to return to full time working hours and continues to do so.
The Adjudication Officer held that there had been an inexcusable delay in carrying out and concluding the investigation in a timely manner; and awarded compensation to be paid to the Claimant. The Adjudication Officer did not find in favour of the claim for loss of earnings. A seperate issue relating to the provision of a written response to the Claimant's comments on the final report was complied with prior to the hearing of the appeal. The Union confirmed for the Court that this issue no longer formed part of the appeal.
Management accepted that there was a substantial delay in completing the investigation process, however, it referred to issues which were outside of its control for the delay which incurred. Management stated that the Claimant was paid sick pay in accordance with its sick pay policy and provided him with employment in accordance with the Occupational Health Medical Officer's recommendations.
Having considered the submissions made by both parties, the Court recommends that due to the delay incurred in the investigation process that an additional €2,000 should be paid to the Claimant in addition to that already awarded by the Adjudication Officer and paid by Management. Furthermore, the Court recommends that the Claimant's expenses during the period from 6th August 2014 until 8th October 2014 when he was based in Howth should be re-examined to determine whether or not the expenses were underpaid. Finally, the Court recommends that Management should continue their efforts to accommodate his request for additional working hours and he should be given priority for any hours that become available in the Meath Primary Care Area.
Accordingly, the appeal is upheld in the part and the Adjudication Officer's Recommendation is varied.
The Court so Decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th July 2016______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Sharon Cahill, Court Secretary.