ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION/RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00001676
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Act, 1977
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 18/04/2017
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: John Tierney
In accordance with Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 [ and/or Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 - 2015] following the referral of the complaint(s)/dispute(s) to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint(s)/dispute(s) and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint(s)/dispute(s).
The Claimant’s employment was terminated by way of redundancy while on certified sick due to workplace related stress. The Claimant does not accept that the redundancy is a genuine one and he lost his job due to reasons other than redundancy.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
The Claimant was initially certified as unfit for work from 19 June 2015 tom 5 July 2015 due to viral illness. He returned to work 6 July and his absence recommenced from 7 July until September 2015. During this time a colleague of his, the front of house manager; responsible for airport check-in, was also certified as unfit for work. The complete absence of the management team, the ramp manager and front of house manager, during a peak period (with no indication of when they would return to work) forced the Respondent to examine the function of their roles.
Arising from this examination, the workload was spread amongst more junior managers and supervisors already working within ground operations. These staff completed tasks such as rostering. Equipment monitoring, stock control, training and return to work meetings normally undertaken by the ramp manager and front of house manager.
The spreading of the workload across the junior staff and supervisors proved a very efficient and beneficial to the operation. As a result this team of staff managed the operation over a 24 hour period as opposed to o0ne person on a Monday to Friday basis from 8.30 am to 5.30 pm. As a result the Deputy Director – ground ops. undertook a review. This resulted in both managers being surplus to requirement and their roles were no longer viable.
On 27 August 2015, the Respondent wrote to the Claimant outlining the review of the management structure of the ground ops function. There was no need for a ramp manager and the position was at risk of being made redundant (copy of letter provided).
The Respondent furnished the Claimant with a list of alternative roles that were available at the time with the company. He was further advised should he not secure an alternative position before 11 September 2015, his position would be made redundant.
On 3 September 2015 the Respondent received a letter from the Claimant solicitor claiming the redundancy was not genuine and a contrivance. On 4 September an another letter was received from the solicitors seeking to determine if the redundancy could be avoided or if a suitable alternative position was available.
The Claimant did not apply for or enquire about any of the 38 available positions within the respondent company or engage in regard to the potential redundancy. As a result on 11 September the Respondent wrote to the Claimant that his position was being made redundant and he had the right to appeal. The appeal took place on 6 October 2015 in the presence of his solicitor. The appealed failed on the basis that the redundancy was justified in the circumstances.
The Respondent provided a number of witnesses to support the procedures and decisions made leading up to the implementation of the redundancy.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
The Claimant outlined his career with the Respondent and how he became a ramp manager in 2009. He stated that his working relationship with his manager; the deputy director of ground ops. was good to start with. However this later changed. His role as ramp manager was wide ranging. He was responsible for all staff on the operation which included five assistant ramp managers and three co-ordinators per shift. He dealt with 120 flights a day. In his opinion it was a wide ranging role and busy job.
The Claimant started a relationship with another employee. His deputy director was also interested in this person. Soon after this he noticed that he was not being invited to a number of meetings he would normally attend. He believed that this was a conscious decision on behalf of the deputy director. He listed a series of incidents and events that occurred following on from this which resulted in him put into the disciplinary process and receiving a final written warning. There was no substance to the complaints made for the disciplinary process. By this stage his working relationship with the deputy director was no good.
By May 2015 after a conversation with his deputy director moves were made to make him redundant. He subsequently went out sick. On 27 August he received a letter informing him that his job was redundant. The alternative jobs that were offered did not conform with the Claimant’s qualifications or abilities. He did not believe that they were genuine alternatives or sincere in their proposals.
A colleague, also a manager gave evidence on the Claimant behalf claiming that she was asked to attend management meetings that he would normally attend. She also stated that the deputy director belittled him at management meetings. The deputy director in conversation with her said he tried everything to get rid of Claimant. She was also asked to write a letter to management about the Claimant by the deputy director.
It was contended that it was the decision of the deputy director top make the Claimant redundant not the HR department.
Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaint(s)/dispute(s) in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under Schedule 6 of that Act.
[Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the unfair dismissal claim consisting of a grant of redress in accordance with section 7 of the 1977 Act.]
I have considered the submissions and evidence presented by the parties. The Claimant has challenged the bona fides of the decision to make his job redundant. He has claimed that it was taken for reasons other than those set out in section 7(2) of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967 and therefore unfairly dismissed. He is claiming a breach of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 – 2015.
The Respondent has argued that they have complied with section 7 of the 1967 Act requirements. It was stated that when the Claimant was out sick his work was shared out among his work colleagues at various levels and it worked successfully. This resulted in a review of the structures of the ground operations. The outcome that the Claimant’s role was no longer required.
Section 7 of 1967 Act states;
A person who is dismissed shall be deemed to have been dismissed by reason of redundancy of his dismissal result wholly or mainly from one of the following :
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 case, the circumstances are such than during the Claimant’s absences his colleagues accepted to take on various aspect of his role as ramp manager. Therefore following the review of the situation the Respondent applied section 7 of the Redundancy Payments Act 1967.
I therefore find that a redundancy situation existed within the meaning of the Act. I do not find that the Claimant was unfairly dismissed by way of redundancy. The claim fails.
Dated: 20 July 2017
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: John Tierney