ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00010590
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: 25/01/2018
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Rosaleen Glackin
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 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 to present to me any evidence relevant to the dispute.
The Complainant was employed from 1st March 2017, on a probationary period of six months. The employment was terminated during this probationary period on 11th August 2017 and the Complainant was also paid one week’s wages in lieu of notice. The Complainant was on a salary of €42,000 per annum and she worked 37.5 hours a week. The Complainant was provided with a written statement of her Terms and Conditions of Employment. The Complainant referred a dispute to the Workplace Relations Commission on 18th September 2017 alleging she had been unfairly dismissed from her employment.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
The Complainant stated that she commenced employment with the Respondent on 1st March 2017 and she was provided with a written statement of her Terms and Conditions of Employment, including the Handbook. Her Job Title and duties were set out in the Contract of Employment. She stated that the Handbook sets out how Performance is to be managed and provides for both an informal and formal approach. The Complainant provided copies of emails between the Complainant and a named Manager in relation to feedback received from staff and stakeholders in relation to performance issues, to cover the period July to August 2017. The Complainant confirmed that when she commenced employment she spent one month training in Ireland, London, Madrid and the Nordic Offices. She stated there was an issue with some staff in relation to flight bookings which resulted in difficulties with two named employees. The Complainant had responsibility for three members of her Team which had been assigned to her. She set out in detail her interaction with her team members during her employment. She stated that she felt she was now being bullied by the two named employees and by her Line Manager. She confirmed at the Hearing that she did not lodge any complaints of bullying against the two named employees or her Line Manager during the course of her employment.
The Complainant confirmed that she had a meeting with her Line Manager on 22nd June 2017 during which her Line Manager suggested that her Leadership and Management style were not effective and she confirmed that her Line Manager did provide some suggestions to her to improve these skills and he sent her three articles on 30th June 2017 on leadership and suggested she might like to meet to discuss any relevant issues arising from these. The Complainant confirmed at the Hearing that she had an informal meeting with her Line Manager on 13th July 2017 at which a number of issues raised by her team were shared with her. The Complainant requested copies of these complaints on 14th July 2017 and these were provided to her.
The Complainant was invited to attend a “Pre-Probation Discussion” with her Line Manager on 8th August 2017. She was informed of this on 6th August 2017. A further meeting was held with the Complainant on 11th August 2017 at which she was informed her employment was to be terminated with immediate effect. The Complainant was due to commence annual leave on 14th August 2017. The Complainant stated that she had been informed verbally by her Line Manager on 3rd August 2017 that she had two weeks to improve her performance and in those circumstances her performance review meeting should not have taken place until 17th August 2017.
The Complainant stated that she had commenced employment on 15th January 2018 and is paid €38,000 per annum. She stated she had been in receipt of Jobseekers Benefit from the Department of Social Protection. The Complainant was requested to provide a statement from the Department of the dates she was in receipt of this payment but she did not do so. This was required by the Adjudication Officer as the statement provided to the Hearing dated 18th August 2017 was not sufficient.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
The Complainant commenced employment on 1st March 2017 and extensive training was provided from 1st to 22ND March 2017. The Complainant’s Line Manager received unsolicited feedback from named individuals on 8th May 2017 in relation to the performance of the Complainant. He held a Managers meeting with all the Managers, including the Complainant, on 14th May 2017 and he sought agreement from all the managers on a collective management approach which would be supportive to colleagues. Further feedback was received from a named stakeholder on 22nd June 2017 on relation to the Complainant. The Line Manager held a performance meeting with the Complainant where he adopted a coaching style approach, focusing on leadership styles and he followed this up on 30th June 2017 when he attached relevant articles in relation to leadership and suggested a follow up discussion once the Complainant had read the material provided.
The Line Manager had a one to one meeting with the Complainant on 7th July 2017 which was a follow up meeting to the previous meeting of 22nd June 2017. At the July meeting the Complainant stated she had not read the articles on leadership provided to her on 30th June 2017. On 13th July 2017 the Line Manager was approached by the Complainant’s Team regarding issues they had with her management style. The Line Manager held a meeting with the Complainant on the same date at which she was informed of the issues raised by her team and to listen to her point of view. The Line Manager was requested by the Complainant on 14th July 2017 to forward a copy of the complaints raised by her team on 13th July 2017 and these were forwarded with an invitation to review them with her once she had an opportunity to do so. Further complaints were received from the Complainant’s team on 21st July 2017, with particular reference to the individual meetings the Complainant had with her team. A Mediation Meeting was held with the Complainant and her team on 1st August 2017 to seek to address the issues raised.
On 6th August 2017 the Complainant was invited to attend a Pre-Probation Discussion” on 8th August 2017. This meeting took place and a further meeting was held with the Complainant on 11th August 2017 at which she was informed she had not passed her probation and she was issued with a letter confirming this on the same date.
The Respondent referenced a number of decisions of Adjudication Officers in relation to similar complaints where the employment was terminated during the probationary period. They also referenced two Court Decisions in support of their argument that an Employer was entitled to rely on the contractual terminal provisions of a Contract of Employment to terminate the employment.
The Respondent confirmed at the Hearing that the Complainant did not raise any Grievance with the Employer during the course of her employment but did seek to raise these after the employment ended.
Findings and Conclusions:
On the basis of the evidence presented by both Parties I find as follows –
The Complainant had been provided with a written statement of her Terms and Conditions of Employment, including the Staff Handbook. At Section 6 of this Contract it provides that “During the first 6 months of your continuous employment, your employment is probationary and will be under review.” The Complainant’s employment was terminated during her probationary period.
Both Parties confirmed that the Complainant had been provided with training from 1st to 22nd March 2017, both in Ireland and other locations abroad. There were no issues raised by the Complainant in relation to the training provided.
I note that the Complainant had been provided with her Job Title and duties associated with her position of Sales Manager. I further note that she was assigned a number of other employees as part of her team.
I note that regular review meetings took place throughout her probationary period from June up until the employment was terminated in August 2017. These were documented to the Hearing and were not in dispute between the Parties.
I note that formal probationary review meetings did take place and the Complainant’s leadership skills in particular were identified to her and supports were offered to the Complainant. I note that the Respondent forwarded three articles on leadership and suggested the Complainant and her Line Manager should meet when she had read the material provided. The Complainant confirmed at a meeting on 7th July 2017 with her Line Manager that she had not read the articles provided to her.
I find that the objective of a probationary period is to allow the Employer to assess the suitability of the Employee and to give them an opportunity to operate at the required standards of performance and to also enable the Employee to satisfy themselves that the job meets their expectations.
I am satisfied that the Respondent applied fair procedures. The duties and skills required for the position were set out for the Complainant. Her performance was reviewed but the Respondent took the decision that the Complainant had failed to meet the requirements of the position and her employment was terminated.
I note that the Complainant alleged in her Submission that she had been bullied however both Parties confirmed at the Hearing that the Complainant did not lodge any complaint or Grievance with the Respondent during the course of her employment.
I find that the Respondent acted fairly and reasonably in making a decision to terminate the Complainant’s employment during her probationary period.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.]
On the basis of the evidence and my findings above I do not recommend in favour of the Complainant.
Dated: 25 April 2018
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Rosaleen Glackin