ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00004333
Complaint(s)/Dispute(s) for Resolution:
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 20/10/2016
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Roger McGrath
In accordance with section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and following the referral of the dispute to me by the Director General, I inquired into the dispute and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and present any evidence relevant to the dispute.
The Complainant started working with his employer in 2005 and works as an operative in the Building Maintenance section of what is a public service organisation.
Complainant's Submission and Presentation
From shortly after he commenced working with his employer the Complainant used his personal phone to make and take work related calls. The Complainant made a case that he should not have to use his personal phone for these calls. This was accepted by his employer and he it was agreed he should be paid an allowance for using his personal phone for work related matters.
The Complainant held this allowance until September 2012 when he was provided with a company phone. The Complainant had use of the company phone for work and some limited personal use until November 2015 when the employer took away the mobile phone saying it was no longer necessary for his day to day duties.
The Complainant submitted that his current role involves driving from place to place collecting and delivering goods. As a result he is regularly contacted by his manager on his personal phone and has to use it to get directions from his manager.
The Complainant believes his employer was not justified in taking away the company phone without his agreement or without payment of compensation as he uses his personal phone for work related calls as much today as he ever did. The phone was a particular part of his terms and conditions of employment.
The Complainant believes he is at a loss due to the removal of his allowance. Although it has been difficult to ascertain his exact losses he believes that when in existence the allowance was to the value of €20 per week. The Complainant believes that colleagues performing similar work to his own are still in possession of company phones.
It is the Complainant's view that he should either have his company phone restored or be compensated for the loss of the allowance from November 2015 to now.
In response to questions the Complainant stated that he still had to make call to his boss, perhaps four or five times per week.
The Complainant did not think that if his claim was acceded to it could lead to further similar claims as he was the only one who has had his phone taken away.
Respondent's Submission and Presentation
From 2008 to until November 2015 the Complainant's main duty was driving a lorry which visited various points in the greater Dublin area. While in this role the Complainant was routinely contacted by phone and directed to his next pick up. As agreed the Complainant was paid a weekly allowance of €20 for using his personal phone for work related calls during the period 10th July 2008 to 17th February 2010.
In February 2010 the Complainant was issued with a company phone and the allowance ceased to be paid. The Complainant used this company phone for work related calls from February 2010 until November 2015.
In October 2015 the employer outsourced the work the Complainant had been doing and he was reassigned to new duties in November 2015. In respect of these current duties there is neither a requirement for the Complainant to have a company phone nor to use his personal phone for work-related matters.
Since November 2015 the Complainant may have used his personal phone on occasion for some non-routine work-related calls, however, it has been explained to the Complainant that his section do not require staff members to use their personal phones for work related matters. There is no reason to contact the Complainant outside of normal working hours except in an extreme emergency situation.
In response to questions the Respondent denied that the Complainant should have to call him, the Complainant could, if a call were required, use the phone of the supplier he was visiting or alternatively he could ring his manager, hang up and get a return call.
The Respondent was of the view that no employee should have to use their personal phone to make work related calls. The Respondent has reduced and continues to reduce the number of company phones on issue for health & safety reasons. No other drivers have sought a payment similar to that being sought by the Complainant.
As a conciliatory gesture the Respondent stated that they would reimburse the Complainant for all phone calls made to head office on his personal phone between November 2015 and 20th October 2016.
It is the responsibility of management to decide if a role requires a mobile phone or not. It is the role which requires the phone, not the individual carrying out the role.
In this instance the original role carried out by the Complainant required the use of a phone and he was initially paid an allowance and subsequently issued with a company phone for that reason. However, when his role changed there was no longer a requirement for him to have a phone. In these circumstances the removal of the phone was justified.
Notwithstanding the validity of removing the phone and view of the Respondent that the Complainant should not have to use his personal phone for work related calls in the future, the Complainant did suffer a loss in the period November 2015 to October 2016 when he occasionally used his personal phone for work related calls. As a gesture of goodwill the Respondent has stated that they are willing to reimburse the Complainant for calls made on his personal phone to head office during this period. This is likely to be a small sum. It is my recommendation that this amount be doubled as a greater gesture of goodwill in order to bring the matter to a close.
Dated: 25th January 2017