ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION/RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00005636
Complainant / Respondent
Anonymised Parties An Electrician / Food Company
Representatives John Fitzgerald JJ Fitzgerald & Co. Solicitors
Siobhan McGowan Purdy FitzGerald Solicitors
ActComplaint/Dispute Reference No. Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977 CA-00007847-001 27/10/2016
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 7 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994 CA-00007847-002 27/10/2016
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 18/10/2017 Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Gaye Cunningham
In accordance with Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015 and Section 7 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994, following the referral of the complaints to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaints and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaints.
The complainant contends that he was unfairly dismissed, by reason of redundancy and that the redundancy was not genuine. The complaint under Section 7 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act 1994 was withdrawn at the hearing.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
The complainant was employed by the respondent from 1st February 2008 to 14th July 2016. There were two plants on site and he was employed in the main plant. It is stated that while the complainant was the only electrician employed in the main plant at the time of the commencement of his employment, by the time he was dismissed, there were three, two of whom were earning less per hour than the complainant. The complainant states that in or about 2014 he believes that he was singled out for adverse comments by managerial staff. He was being picked on for such issues as tool box being dirty and a fault in a conveyor belt. In or about February 2016 the complainant learnt that one maintenance person was to have their employment terminated. This was between about 8 people between the two plants. It appears that there was a rumour that a contract was lost and the respondent was grouping the two plants with a view to letting one employee go. The complainant states that a “matrix” system was brought in and he was “tested” as to his competency. The complainant states that the system was unfair to him, that he was never given upskilling throughout his employment, and he was not given an opportunity to re-sit one of the tests when a motor failed. The respondent advised the complainant by letter of 15th March 2016 that he was selected for redundancy. The complainant appealed and outlined his grievances as requested. It is contended that the complainant’s appeal was never fully finalised and the complainant, as a key employee of the respondent was unfairly selected for redundancy.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
The respondent argues that in accordance with Section 6 (4) (c) of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977, the dismissal of the complainant was not an unfair dismissal as it resulted wholly from the redundancy of the employee. In February and March 2016, the respondent spoke to their maintenance employees and explained that the company was seeking one or two redundancies. The company lost a major order. The company looked at various alternatives, and implemented some savings and at one point it was likely that another maintenance employee would get voluntary redundancy. However it transpired that following consultations with staff, a standard process of selection for redundancy was embarked upon. A copy of the matrix was given to staff and their comments requested. No comments were received and the interview/matrix process began in March 2016. The complainant was, unfortunately selected for possible redundancy and he was advised by letter dated 15th March 2016. He was further written to on 31st March 2016 seeking a meeting with him on his return from sick leave. The complainant met with a representative of management on 8th June 2016 and explained that the scheduled meeting for 9th June could not go ahead as his solicitor was not available and his wife was in hospital. When the complainant raised certain grievances the manager told him to put them in writing. However, it was clear these grievances were historical in nature and that a redundancy procedure had been put in place well in advance of any grievance being raised by the complainant. Following a full and thorough completion of the grievance process, a further meeting was then arranged between the complainant and management on 14th July 2016, to discuss the outcome of the skills matrix and the fact that his position was being made redundant. The complainant categorically refused to accept that his position was or could be redundant and when advised of alternate positions that were available, refused to accept same. Following the meeting, management wrote to him outlining alternate positions and advising him of his right to appeal. The complainant wrote to the Group H.R. Director setting out his grounds for appeal. The Director wrote back seeking clarification on his points of appeal. It should be noted that the complainant did not respond. It is argued that the complainant was selected for redundancy on foot of an agreed matrix formula. Following his selection, the complainant’s position was maintained for a substantial period of time in order to allow his grievances to be investigated. Following on from this, the complainant was further offered alternative positions and when those were not deemed acceptable, he was offered an appeal, which was not fully followed up by him. It is argued that the complainant’s redundancy was genuine and that the respondent acted reasonably in this difficult process.
Findings and Conclusions:
Section 6 (4) of the 1977 Act provides: “(4) Without prejudice to the generality of subsection (1) of this section, the dismissal of an employee shall be deemed, for the purposes of this Act, not to be an unfair dismissal, if it results wholly or mainly from one or more of the following:…(c) the redundancy of the employee”. Section 7 (2) of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 provides that .. “an employee who is dismissed shall be taken to be dismissed by reason of redundancy if, [for one or more reasons not related to the employee concerned] the dismissal is attributable wholly or mainly to –(b) the fact that the requirements of that business for employees to carry out work of a particular kind in the place where he was so employed have ceased or diminished or are expected to cease or diminish, or(c) the fact that his employer has decided to carry on the business with fewer or no employees, whether by requiring the work for which the employee had been employed (or had been doing before his dismissal) to be done by other employees, or otherwise..”. In this instant case, I have examined the evidence to ascertain whether a genuine redundancy existed. I find that the process embarked upon by the respondent in March 2016, was a genuine and transparent process and was not designed to single out the complainant. I do not uphold his complaint that he was unfairly dismissed.
The complainant was dismissed by way of redundancy. The redundancy was not connected to him as an individual employee. I therefore find he was not unfairly dismissed and his complaint fails.
Dated: 18th December 2017
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Gaye Cunningham