ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00015807
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: 08/01/2019
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Eugene Hanly
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969following 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 Worker is employed as a Trainer since 2010. She is paid €2,206 per month. She has claimed that her hours of work were unilaterally reduced from 35 to 21 per week. She is seeking reinstatement of her full time hours and full payment for her loss of earnings
Summary of Worker’s Case:
The Worker has a permanent contract of employment working 33.25 hours per week. She raised a bullying and harassment complaint and was absent from work for a period of time. Upon her return in May 2016 she was informed that her contracted hours would be reduced to 21 hours per week, working Tuesdays to Thursdays with some flexibility required. She was also advised that the practice of two trainers giving the training would be reduced to one. She was obliged to swap her days, this was now a requirement, not a request. She refused to sign the revised contract of 21 hours per week. She had to find alternative work to supplement her income following the loss of her hours. She had been expected to work the odd Saturday in the past, but this was not possible due to her supplementary work. The case was referred to Conciliation in the WRC. Two meetings took place. The outcome was the same, her working days were Tuesday to Thursday and any additional days would be paid. She was also required to deliver additional training days on Saturdays on an irregular basis. Additional training requirements would be met by using external trainers.
It is her position that she is an excellent trainer and highly respected in her field. The reason for the reduction in the hours was because of a bullying allegation that she made. She was the only worker in the company to have her hours cut. She never accepted the new contract of reduced hours. She was not offered fair procedures in the reduction of the hours. There appears to be efforts by management to stifle her attempts to get extra hours. She has undertaken the training alone. She has suffered huge financial losses. She has been flexible and accommodating. She is seeking the restoration of her hours from 21 to 35 and is seeking full payment for the loss.
Summary of Employer’s Case:
The Worker is one of a small number of trainers who delivers training for the company. Due to the financial crisis the funding was drastically cut and the Employer had to take significant measures to ensure its continuance. In 2009 there were cuts to salaries and hours of work. Between 2013 and 2015 there was a considerable drop in funding. Income into the Training Department fell significantly. Changes were voluntarily accepted by the staff. In May 2016 the Worker returned to work following a lengthy absence, to a reduced working week from 5 days to three, initially on a trial period and then it became indefinite. While her working days were Tuesdays to Thursdays there were requirements for Mondays and Fridays occasionally, while Saturdays were required once or twice a year. When working Saturdays the practice was to swap the day and receive time and one half for the purposes of time in lieu. These changes were accepted and worked until late 2017. In October 2017she raised a grievance and sought to revert to full time working. Consideration was given to this request but due to financial constraints it was not possible to grant. She had proposed to revert to full time five days a week or be paid for Fridays when worked and not swapped with a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday. The Employer gave a detailed response to her union and herself on 20th November 2017. She then informed the Employer that she was reserving her right to refer the matter to the WRC. In early 2018 there was a requirement for Saturday work but she declined. Following the Conciliation Conference on 30th May 2018 they put in place arrangements to address her concerns. It was agreed to fix her days to Tuesday to Thursdays each week. She would be offered to work additional days for payment with no obligation to accept. There remains a necessity for Saturday work, but she has not done any since then.
The Employer does not have the funding to restore the hours of work and currently there is no demand for it. They are not in a position to accede to her claim and despite their best efforts no solution has been found.
Findings and Conclusions:
I note the funding restrictions that the Employer has had to contend with.
I note the measures introduced to address the shortages in funding, rate and hours of work reductions.
I find that these measures were applied across the company and not just to the Worker and there has been a reduction in staff numbers.
I note that initially her hours were reduced from 35 to 33.25.
I note that upon her return to work from a prolonged absence, her hours of work were further unilaterally reduced from 33.25 to 21 hours per week.
I find that this is a significant reduction in her hours of work.
I note that no compensation was paid for this reduction.
I note that the Worker has had to take on additional duties outside the company in order to supplement her income, which is understandable.
I find that the Employer made genuine attempts to address her concerns, including the offer of some additional hours on an irregular basis but this was not successful.
I found no evidence that the Worker was signalled out for reduction in hours.
I find the reduction of two trainers to one for presentations was reasonable under the circumstances.
I found no evidence that the reduction in hours was motivated by the grievance concerning bullying.
I find that the Employer failed to appreciate the impact on the Complainant of the reduction in hours from 33.25 to 21 hours per week, having previously reduced the hours from 35 to 33.25.
I find that this was a significant reduction in her hours of work which has fundamentally altered her contract of employment.
I find that it was wrong to unilaterally reduce the hours and not to have had meaningful discussions on the implications of the reduction.
I find that the Worker was entitled to compensation for having her hours reduced.
I find that there is no possibility of reverting to full time hours as there are neither funds nor a demand for them.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.
I have considered the written and oral submissions of the parties.
I recommend that the Employer should pay compensation of 1.5 times the annual loss of the hours of work reduced from 33.25 hours to 21 which amounts to (41,914 less 26,472) = €15,442 loss per annum X 1.5 = €23,118.
I recommend that the Employer pays the Worker compensation of €23,118 within six weeks of the date below.
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Eugene Hanly
Reduction in hours of work and Loss of income