Workplace Relations Commission: Man whose employment was terminated after dispute over paternity pay awarded €8,000

Workplace Relations Commission
Workplace Relations Commission

A man whose employment was terminated after a dispute arose over paternity leave has been awarded nearly €8,000 in the Workplace Relations Commission.

The man had been informed that he was entitled to a period of paid leave, but after approaching his manager, his request for paid leave was declined and ultimately his employment was terminated without any warning.

Adjudication Officer Jim O’Connell said that the man, who was still in his probationary period with the respondent company, was entitled to fair procedures and natural justice, and awarded €6,333 in compensation to reflect one month’s pay, together with €1,639 in compensation to reflect the amount deducted during his final month of employment.  

Request for paternity leave

The claimant, Mr Z, commenced working with the respondent company in March 2018. He was paid €6,333.33 gross per month. On 7 June 2018, he enquired with his employer about paternity leave, and was informed by the training manager that he was entitled to three days’ fully paid leave, along with two weeks’ statutory paternity leave.

On 6 July 2018, in a meeting with his manager, he submitted that his wife was due to give birth on 9 August 2018 and raised the issue of taking paternity leave. His manager was not sure of the system, but said he would investigate it. Mr Z submitted that his manager “did not appear too impressed that he… was seeking to take such leave”. A number of days later, Mr Z was advised by his manager that he would need to produce a stamped doctor’s report or a letter detailing the due date and for his wife details to be included in the certificate – he did so on 12 July 2018.

Thereafter, Mr Z said he was informed by his manager that there was no company pay for the time out – which he said was a surprise given the information provided by the training manager. The manager sent an email to the finance department directing that the claimant’s pay be stopped around the paternity dates.

Mr Z submitted that he emailed the training manager to confirm the conversation he had with her on 7 June 2018, but that he received no reply.

After discussing the matter with his wife, Mr Z requested to take two weeks’ holidays instead, as he could not afford to take two weeks off at his own expense. Mr Z’s manager refused this request, stating that holidays should be taken at Christmas when things were quiet. After further discussion, Mr Z secured one week’s annual leave.

Termination of employment

On 21 August 2018, Mr Z was invited to a meeting on 23 August 2018 when his employment was terminated. Mr Z contended that he was penalised for requesting paternity leave, and that his employment was terminated as a result.

The respondent company denied that Mr Z was penalised, and submitted that a number of meetings had taken place with Mr Z in relation to his work performance and as he was in his probationary period they terminated his employment.

In the Workplace Relations Commission, Mr Z sought adjudication under the Industrial Relations Acts and under section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act 1991.

Complaint to the Workplace Relations Commission

Considering the complaint under the Industrial Relations Acts, Adjudication Officer O’Connell said the only correspondence submitted by the respondent company was a letter dated 21 August 2018 inviting Mr Z to a meeting on 23 August 2018, and a letter dated 23 August 2018 confirming the termination of Mr Z’s employment. No other evidence was submitted by the respondent company by way of minutes of meetings which had allegedly taken place between Mr Z and his manager about his job performance. Adjudication Officer O’Connell said the “lack of minutes of meetings and other documentation to support the respondent’s decision is paramount in fair procedures”.

Adjudication Officer O’Connell noted that in LCR21798, the Labour Court found that the employee on probation is still entitled to fair procedures and natural justice – as such, Adjudication Officer O’Connell found that Mr Z was not given warning that his job was in jeopardy.

Based on the evidence, Adjudication Officer O’Connell found that the paternity leave request played a role in the claimant’s termination. Pursuant to section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969, Adjudication Officer O’Connell made a recommendation awarding Mr Z one month’s pay, i.e. €6,333 in compensation.

Considering Mr Z’s complaint seeking adjudication under section 6 of the Payment of Wages Act 1991, Adjudication Officer O’Connell explained that Mr Z was deducted one week’s wages in the month of August – i.e. of €1,639.21. Pursuant to Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act 2015, Adjudication Officer said the complaint was well founded and awarded Mr Z the sum of €1,639.21 gross.

  • by Seosamh Gráinséir for Irish Legal News

© Irish Legal News Ltd 2020

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