This case involved a gentleman who was made redundant from the Institute of Education in Dublin. The employee, who had oversight of the Institute’s print room, represented himself and the Institute of Education was represented by Mason Hayes and Curran solicitors.
The Institute of Education is a private secondary institute in Dublin and the gentleman in question commenced employment in September 2019. The complainant’s job was made redundant in January 2021. The complainant claimed that this was not a genuine redundancy and claimed for unfair dismissal at the Workplace Relations Commission.
The respondent’s position was that this was a genuine redundancy, and they regretted it but it was unavoidable. The human resource’s manager and the Principal of the Institute gave evidence about the redundancy and the work of the institute.
The complainant on the other hand said that this was an unfair dismissal and gave evidence about a dispute in January 2021 shortly before the redundancy. This deterioration in the relationship with the employer arose concerning issued about working in a COVID-19 environment where no mask was worn by a close contact.
Also, in January nine 2021 the principle asked the complainant to come to work but he did not complete the list of printing jobs that he was asked to do and the principal expressed her disappointment.
On Monday January the 11th the complainant was called to a meeting to discuss the possible redundancy of his job. He attended the meeting on his own and no notes were taken.
On Wednesday January 13th the complainant attended a second meeting with the Principal and the HR manager. He took notes at the meeting because there was no note taker present, and he said that he wasn’t permitted to make a recording.
It was part of the complainant’s complaint that he was not afforded fair procedure in the way the redundancy was carried out and that the final decision as to redundancy was decided two days after the initial meeting.
The adjudicator in this case held that this was an unfair dismissal and observed that the complainants line manager had been made redundant some months prior to this and therefore it was likely that a work deficit had arisen. The process of making the complainant redundant started with a meeting on January 11th and ended on January 13th when he was called to another meeting and given a letter confirming his dismissal.
The adjudicator held that it was evident that no consultation took place and that his response to the at risk status of his job was not considered- that is, alternative roles were not considered and no substantive effort was made to prevent the loss of this employment.
The adjudicator held that the process started and ended two days later without an exchange of views and accordingly found the respondent’s treatment of the complainant was disingenuous and entirely unfair.
The adjudication officer held that there was some reason not related to the redundancy of his job that resulted in the dismissal of the complainant.
The adjudication officer held that there was growing friction between him and the principal and the speed of the process that ended with the complainant’s dismissal was disturbing as was the absence of any concern about his personal circumstances and impact that the loss of his job was bound to have on him and his family.
The adjudication officer held that the dismissal was substantively and procedurally unfair and found that the complaint was well founded and decided that the respondent is to pay the complainant €35,000 in compensation-that is equivalent to one year’s gross pay.
You can read the full decision here in Randell Buckler and Tottoria Trading Limited, trading as The Institute of Education.
This is a good example of a case where the procedure adopted to arrive at a decision to make an employee redundant was poor and rushed. The gap between the notice to the employee that his position was at risk on January 11th and the decision on January 13th to make him redundant is only two days and is not indicative of a process which involves an exchange of views between employer and employee as to how the employee might be accommodated in alternative work or in an alternative role.
It is not enough for an employer to identify a redundancy situation and carry out the redundancy, even if it is a genuine one, without going through fair procedures and natural justice in exploring the options and alternatives to the decision to terminate the employment of the employee.
For this reason, this decision is worth looking at, especially if you are an employer.
If you are an employee, you should take encouragement from the fact that this complainant represented himself, accompanied by his wife, against a leading firm of solicitors in Ireland, Mason Hayes and Curran and was successful.