UNIVERSITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
1.Appeal Of Adjudication Officer Decision No. ADJ-00028260 CA-00035550-002
The Complainant was employed in research roles under the University Research Careers Framework on two separate fixed terms contracts. It is the Complainant’s submission that he should not have been made redundant and that he was entitled to a contract of indefinite duration. His contract ceased in February 2020, and he was offered a redundancy payment which he declined. The Respondent’s position is that his employment came to an end when the funding for the project he was engaged on ceased, and his contract expired. The fact of dismissal is not in dispute.
Summary of the Respondent’s case.
The Complainant successfully applied for a Research Fellow post funded by the European Protection Agency which was a specified purpose contract and ran from the 1st May 2015 to the 30thMay 2017. At the end of that contract the Complainant received a redundancy payment. Knowing that this project was coming to an end the Complainant on the 8thMay 2017 successfully applied for the post of UCD Research Fellow on the Project Irish Land emissions and Sequestration Support tool, which was funded by the Department of Agriculture, Food and Marine.
The advertisement for the post stated that it was for a period of 2.5 years which is an estimate of how long that element of the research is expected to take. The Complainant signed the contract in respect of the position on the 15thJune 2017 whereby he confirmed that he had read the contract and agreed to the terms and conditions of same. The contract clearly states that it is a fixed term contract and will terminate at the end of 2.5 years and that it is solely for the purpose of the particular project. The contract also set out the basis for providing a fixed term contract rather than a permanent contract and that the provisions of the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 to 2015 do not apply to the termination of this contract where such termination is by reason only of the expiry of this fixed term.
It is the Respondent’s submission that the specified purpose contract came to an end and there was no further funding available to continue the post the Complainant held. On the basis that the Complainant’s role ceased to exist and there was no other project available that required the Complainant’s particular expertise, the Complainant was offered a redundancy payment. Section 2(2) (b) of the Acts provides for exclusion from the protections of the Acts in circumstances such as existed in this case. It is the Respondent’s submission that there was no breach of the Act.
It is the Complainant’s case that he was unfairly dismissed. The Complainant submitted that he was aware the funding attaching to his position had ceased, but he felt that the College should have stepped in and funded the research project from their own budget. The Complainant did not dispute that he was offered a redundancy package or that when a previous contract had expired, he had accepted a redundancy package. The Complainant was unable to point to any other example of where, when funding expired for a Research Fellow post the Respondent had stepped in and funded the research from their own budget. It was the Complainant’s submission that he had carried on the research after the funding had ceased but he accepted that he had not been asked to do so by the Respondent. The Complainant felt that even though the post was a funded Research Fellow post for a fixed period of time that he should have been given a contract of indefinite duration although he accepted that he had never pursued that issue through the relevant legislation
The applicable law
Section 1 of the Act defines dismissal in the following manner
“dismissal”, in relation to an employee, means—
(a) the termination by his employer of the employee's contract of employment with the employer, whether prior notice of the termination was or was not given to the employee,
Section2 exclusions states;
(2) [Subject to subsection (2A), this] Act shall not apply in relation to—
(a) dismissal where the employment was under a contract of employment for a fixed-term made before the 16th day of September, 1976, and the dismissal consisted only of the expiry of the term without its being renewed under the same contract, or
(b) dismissal where the employment was under a contract of employment for a fixed-term or for a specified purpose (being a purpose of such a kind that the duration of the contract was limited but was, at the time its making, incapable of precise ascertainment) and the dismissal consisted only of the expiry of the term without its being renewed under the said contract or the cesser of the purpose and the contract is in writing, was signed by or on behalf of the employer and by the employee and provides that this Act shall not apply to a dismissal consisting only of the expiry or cesser aforesaid, or
It is clear to the Court based on the written submissions of the parties and the oral submissions on the day of the hearing that this case falls within the ambit of section 2(2)(b) and therefore, the Act does not apply to this dismissal.
The Court determines that the Complaint is not well founded. The decision of the Adjudication Officer is upheld. The Court so determines.