In this recently published decision, yet again an employer fell short on how it implemented a dismissal of an employee who, had less than 5 months service, resulting in an award of €6,000 being recommended despite breaching a clause that prevented her working in any manner outside of her employment that could be prejudicial to her employer. (Ref ADJ-00028843).

As the WRC and Courts have continued to highlight deficiencies in workplace investigation practices, and employers have to deal with the implications and costs of inadequate investigations, this short article summaries some key points to consider when setting up a workplace investigation.

The recently published Labour Court determination against Costa Coffee in respect of a sexual harassment case taken by a former employee should provide a stern reminder for employers in respect of their responsibilities to not only have in place appropriate anti-harassment and bullying polices, but to ensure that they are communicated properly and understood and that managers are fully trained in their responsibilities with regard to the prevention of sexual harassment in the workplace.

The standard time limit for submission of complaints to the WRC is generally six months from the date of the contravention that the complaint relates to as per Section 41(6) of the Workplace Relations Act 2015, and as per Section 41 (8), this may only be extended for a further six month period, if reasonable cause is presented for the delay.

This recent WRC decision highlighted the importance of a robust investigation stage that is not predetermined, when a betting shop manager from a retail and online gaming operation, was awarded almost €11k after being unfairly dismissed due to a number of procedural flaws in both the investigation and disciplinary stages. (Ref ADJ-00026144)

Whilst this is a decision of the UK Employment Tribunal, which upheld the summary dismissal of a lorry driver who refused to wear a face mask on a client site, it may provide some indication of how a similar case would be dealt with in the WRC. (Kubilius -v- Kent Food (Case Number: 3201960/2020)

With Google recently announcing plans for a fast tracked and earlier return to the office for its employees in the US, having previously being one of the first large tech Companies to go remote last year, many other employers are also now advanced with their planning on how they are going to manage this transition back to the office, and particularly how they will deal with employees who do not want to return. A WRC decision earlier this year may be of interest (Ref ADJ-00028293).

As the WRC and Courts have continued to highlight deficiencies in workplace investigation practices, and employers have to deal with the implications and costs of inadequate investigations, this short article summaries some key points to consider when setting up a workplace investigation.

The well publicised case last year in which three care workers in a nursing home were awarded a total of €150,000 for sexual harassment that was perpetrated by a resident, provides some useful reminders for employers on how sexual harassment complaints need to be managed in the workplace (ADJ- 00015039)

The recently published updated and unified Code of Practice on the Prevention & Resolution of Bullying at work places a helpful stronger emphasis on informal resolution of bullying issues that arise, as well as providing further clarifications on what behaviours do not constitute bullying.

With the publication of the government's strategy last Friday on remote working, which includes the planned introduction of the right for employees to request a permanent remote working arrangement, many employees will be delighted that this could be the case, with others desperately waiting for a return to the office, and to get out of the house again every morning. In the meantime, a quick reminder of some useful practical tips for making remote working as easy as possible, for as long as it will remain necessary, in the short term at least, under Covid restrictions.

As we approach the Christmas holiday season, this article briefly reviews the issue of the right to disconnect, which has come to the fore once again, as a result of the unexpected move to remote working for many employees during the Covid 19 Pandemic, and the establishment of a pattern of working, which may remain a standard feature of working life for many going forward.

A successful appeal to the Labour Court for a constructive dismissal claim resulted in the Adjudication Officer's decision being overturned and compensation of €10,000 being awarded to a former Training Co-Ordinator/Instructor who had been employed by the Rehab Group for 17 years before she resigned in 2018 due to the behaviour of a colleague. (Ref UDD2026)

The threshold of gross misconduct is a difficult one to meet for workplace dismissals and this recent case highlights that despite the long serving and clean employment record of the employee concerned, proper investigation and due process can ensure that inappropriate behaviour in the workplace can be dealt with correctly (ADJ 00026053).

The recent High Court case of Donal O'Donovan v Over-C Technology [2020] IEHC 291 was a stark reminder about the potential problems of not using contractual probatioanry period provisions correctly, when dismissing employees during their probatioanry period.

This is an interesting case in which an employer suggested that it had cited age and heath to be the reason for a cleaner's dismissal to assist her getting social welfare, rather than referring to the real gross misconduct reason of inappropriate behaviour with a resident in the disability service that she worked in. This was a costly mistake that resulted in an award of €10,000 being made against them for discrimination (ADJ - 00025681)