Firm ordered to pay €10,000 to worker made redundant during first Covid-19 lockdown

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The case was recently heard at the Workplace Relations Commission.

A VENTILATION COMPANY has been ordered to pay €10,000 compensation to a worker it made redundant during the first Covid-19 lockdown.

In ordering the firm to pay the compensation to the unfairly dismissed service technician, Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer Pat Brady criticised firms who do not uphold workers’ rights during the pandemic.

Brady said the company owner responsible in the case attempted during the hearing to stress the adverse impact of the pandemic on his business.

But he added that anyone living in Ireland would be fully aware of the “universal and devastating” impact of the virus on business and community life.

“One thing that has not changed is the applicability of the core principles of our employment laws and, most notably, and perhaps most importantly, the underlying and fundamental obligation to apply fair procedure in matters affecting a person’s rights,” he said.

“The pandemic provides no exemption from its writ.”

The dismissed worker told the WRC that he was sent an email on 11 May, 2020 by his line manager saying that he would be getting further details on 13 May about his return to work, which was set to recommence on 18 May.

However, when that email arrived it stated that his employment was being terminated on 15 May.

The email told the worker “as you are one of the most recent hires, I am sorry but you are one of the people whose service we have to dispense with from this Friday”.

The worker claimed that there was no selection process for the redundancy that he was aware of, and that he was unfairly selected for redundancy in a manner that constituted an unfair dismissal.

The company told the WRC that as the incidence of the Covid-19 was increasing in late February to March last year, it had become clear that revenues would decline further.

The company’s managing director told the commission that this meant that decisive immediate action was needed to keep the company financially viable.

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However, in his findings, Brady noted that there was sufficient evidence that the employer had failed to apply a fair selection process for redundancy.

He said the termination of the worker’s employment was unfair because of the procedures applied to how the complainant was made redundant.

Brady also noted that the business had made a dramatic recovery and that by September, it was in need of additional employees.

In response to a query about why the complainant was not considered for re-employment, the company’s managing director said the former staff member would have been unlikely to make it through the recruitment process.

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