ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION/RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00012955
A Hospitality Company
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 7 of the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 16/07/2018
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Ray Flaherty
In accordance with Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 andfollowing the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.
The Respondent runs a number of hospitality establishments including B&Bs and hostels. The Complainant commenced working with the Respondent’s on 12 December 2016, as a member of the housekeeping staff in one of the hostels.
During 2017, the Complainant moved to one of the Respondent’s B&Bs, in the role of receptionist/administrator.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
The Complainant stated that she filed her complaint on the basis that she felt she was being treated unfairly by the Respondent and that there was no clarity with regard to her employment situation.
According to the Complainant, she had not been kept informed, on a weekly basis, in relation to her hours of work. She stated that she went from a 40 hour per week supervisor contract to 20 hours per week, without any notice or agreement. She further stated that despite her best attempts to communicate directly with the Respondent’s HR, the responses, including documentation provided for social welfare purposes, proved inconclusive.
The Complainant stated that she was concerned that the Respondent was withholding her contract of employment. The Complainant also stated that she suspected she was being discriminated against due to issues that the Respondent was having with her sibling, who was an ex-employee. In this regard, the Complainant stated that she had been in contact with several of the Respondent’s employees who informed her that he had been enquiring as to whether she was a good worker and if her employment should be continued.
The Complaint stated that she believed she was unfairly treated because the Respondent had (a) failed to give sufficient notice of her weekly rotas, (b) reduced her hours of work, (c) failed to communicate with her in relation to her position in the company, (d) failed to relocate her as would be normal with other employees and (e) failed to confirm her future with the company.
In evidence provided subsequent to the lodging of her complaint, the Complained stated that, when she reached out to the Respondent requesting a reduced/cut our letter for the Social Welfare, she was informed that the B&B, in which she was working, was closed until March and that hours would be restored at that point in time. However, the Complaint stated that she been made aware that the business is not closed, but was open on a full-time basis with employees from the Respondent’s other properties working there.
In conclusion, the Complaint stated that, in her view, the Respondent was dragging out her dismissal because they knew it would be unfair to dismiss her as a result of the situation with her sibling, which she claimed had nothing to do with her. According to the Complainant, she considered that she was being prevented from moving forward in her employment and this was both unfair and unjust.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
In response to the complaint, the Respondent denied the allegation that the reduction in the Complainant’s hours of work was unfair. The Respondent pointed out that the winter months are low season for the tourism and hospitality industry. It was stated that bookings pickup in spring and summer.
The Respondent also stated, in evidence, that, to cope with this seasonality, they reduce the hours of 75% of their employees across all elements of their business each year. It was also pointed out that the issue in relation to low season reduction in hours is contained in the employment contracts of all employees.
The Respondent stated in evidence that the Complainant worked nine hours during the week ending 14 January 2018 and had no hours the following week, ending 21 January 2014. The Respondent stated that it instructed its Operations Manager to inform all staff of the reduction in hours and the fact that normal hours will resume in March 2018.
However, the Respondent stated that, for some reason the Operations Manager, who apparently at that time was in a relationship with the Complainant’s sibling, did not include the Complainant in these communications. According to the Respondent, the Operations Manager then tendered her resignation. The Respondent further stated their understanding was that the Operations Manager intended to set up in competition with the Respondents.
The Respondent refuted the Complainant’s contention that the establishment in which she had been working had remained open during the winter months. The Respondent stated, in evidence, that the premises in question was refurbished during the month of January/February 2018. In addition, the Respondent stated that another employee, who was experiencing difficulty in obtaining accommodation for himself, was allowed to live on the premises, free of charge, in return for acting in the role as house sitter. It was stated that such an arrangement was common in the industry.
The Respondent also stated that any bookings which were received, for the location in question, during the winter period, were usually transferred to one of the hostels, which normally remain open during this time.
Finally, in conclusion, the Respondent stated that all staff, including the Complainant, were offered re-employment for the 2018 season, however, the latter declined the offer.
Findings and Conclusions:
Having carefully considered all the evidence adduced, I’m satisfied that the Complainant’s submission of a complaint under the Terms of Employment (Information) Act, 1994, was misconceived. Based on the evidence presented, I am satisfied that the Complainant had a series of grievances with her employer, none of which are covered by the provisions of the above Act.
Notwithstanding the above finding, I did carefully consider the evidence presented. Based on that, I find that there are no grounds to the Complainant’s grievances as submitted. I fully satisfied that the Respondent’s business, in which the Complainant worked, prior to her layoff for the winter period, was not operational during that time.
I am further of the view, based on the evidence presented, that the Respondent fully intend to re-employ the Complainant when the hospitality season recommenced in March 2018. This is confirmed by an offer of employment which was subsequently made to the Complainant, which, she acknowledged that the Hearing, she declined.
Considering all of the above and, based on the balance of probability, it appears that the Complainant may have, to some degree, been caught up in a situation pertaining to her sibling and the Operations Manager and their respective interactions with the Respondent. However, having carefully reviewed all of the evidence, I am satisfied that this did not impact on the Respondent’s relationship with the Complainant. I am further satisfied that any perceived feelings of injustice held by the Complainant, towards the Respondent, in this regard, are not supported by the evidence.
Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015 requires that I make a decision in relation to the complaint in accordance with the relevant redress provisions under Schedule 6 of that Act.
Having carefully considered all of the evidence adduced and based on the considerations/findings as detailed above, I find that the Complainant’s complaint is not well founded and therefore not upheld.
Dated: 24th September 2018
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Ray Flaherty
Terms of Employment
Lay Off/Short-time Working