ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00003532
Complaint and Dispute for Resolution:
Complaint and Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under the Industrial Relations Acts
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act, 1991
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 26/10/2016
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Patsy Doyle
In accordance with Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act, Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946 and Section 6 of the payment of Wages Act, 1991, following the referral of the complaint and dispute to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and dispute, gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint and dispute.
Attendance at Hearing:
A Waitress V A Hotel
Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:
The complainant commenced work as a Waitress/Barmaid on 26 September 2015. She enjoyed her job and worked in a number of different areas of the Hotel .She got on well with the local people in the area. In May, 2015, she submitted her four week notice of resignation as she intended to return to her home country.
On 20 May, 2016, The Hotel was busy , as she was preparing to take her customary smoking break, the then General Manager of the Hotel sought to obstruct her break, he commenced an argument, raising his voice at the complainant and ordered her to clean the bar or go home .A further argument ensued where the complainant described being highly insulted by the manager She told the hearing that she was directed to clean the bar or lose her job .She agreed to clean the bar but was again obstructed by the general manager who blocked her entrance to the area. She interpreted this as a final action and that her job was gone. She considered herself dismissed. She left the hotel handing her hotel uniforms to staff on reception.
She told the hearing that she felt disrespected and while she had intended to leave the employment in June as planned, this was a very upsetting experience.
She tried to seek both the general manager and the owner of the Hotel out to discuss the matter but this did not work out .She left to travel to her home country on June 9th. She referred her case to the Workplace Relations Commission on June 11..She sought payment in lieu of notice and compensation for the stress suffered .
Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:
At the outset, the respondent agreed to concede the claim for one weeks pay owed .They disputed the claim under the Industrial Relations Act.
The General Manager referred to in the complainants submission had left the company of his own volition and the respondent did not have a log of the management of events on May 20, 2016.They had undertaken an elaborate search of emails to ascertain what followed in the course of and in the wake of 20 May, but they had been unsuccessful.
The respondent contended that the complainant had not been dismissed, nor were words amounting to a dismissal spoken. The events turned on the fact that a specific request issued by the manager was not acceded to by the complainant. The respondent was certain that had a dispute of the scale submitted by the complainant occurred, the accommodation manager, who was standing nearby would have heard it and noted it. This did not occur. The respondent submitted that the complainant walked out of the Hotel.
The respondent had a grievance and disciplinary procedure available and they contended that the complainant did not rely on this course of action .The respondent recalled offering to meet the complainant but understood that she had left the country by the time the organisation of the meeting was possible .
The respondent paid the complainant all outstanding salary and annual leave amounts to the value of €653.08 in September, 2016.
Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaint and dispute in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under Schedule 6 of that Act.
CA 0000-5147-001 Industrial Relations Claim
I listened carefully to both parties to this dispute and their stated preferences for resolution of the matter. I inquired into the sequence of events as recollected by the parties.
I accept that the complainant enjoyed her work at the respondent hotel .I accept that she had submitted her notice of resignation to tie in with 9 June 2016.
It was clear that the events of May 20th as described by the complainant distressed her greatly. She left her job earlier than planned due to her belief that she was fired. She submitted that she was not entitled to any payments from the Department of Social Protection .
The respondent did not have any notes, statements or witnesses for me to investigate and the General Manager was lost to them through re-employment.
I examined the contract of employment signed by the complainant in 2015. I found that the contract provided among other components, for a period of 3 month probation, a flexibility clause, a grievance, disciplinary and dignity at work procedure.
I can appreciate in a busy hotel that all hands may be needed on deck at particular times in the day. If disagreements happen, the policies referred to above are meant to be triggered and utilised by the parties the event logged, reviewed and if appropriate, an action plan agreed and acted on.
In this case, I accept that both parties wished to resolve the matter of the premature departure of the complainant, but it never materialised. I found the complainants submission of her Uniform to staff on reception in the immediate aftermath of the disagreement to be regrettable and a sad action. I find that it would have been reasonable and indeed fair for someone in the Hotel to have followed this up within a 24 hour period .This did not happen. I appreciate that it may have been stunted as the conflict arose between the highest ranking manager at the Hotel and the complainant in her role as staff .
Given that both parties had access to adequate dispute resolution tools, I must record that both parties missed an opportunity to resolve the conflict within the life time of the contract of employment. However, the respondent had a higher duty of care towards the complainant that was deficient both on 20 May 2016 and during the remaining three weeks before the complainant left the country.
I recommend that the respondent pay the complainant €900.00 (nett) in compensation within 4 weeks for the failure to follow their own procedures, maintain a record of a potentially serious safety issue and for causing the complainant disrespect during her notice period.
CA-0000-5147-002 Payment of Wages Claim
The respondent has agreed to pay one weeks pay owed to the value of €324.00 nett.
Dated: 20th January 2017