A FORMER LOCAL authority worker who took a case of unfair dismissal against his previous employers has lost his appeal at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
The man – who worked in the Waste Management Services Division of the authority – said he was dismissed for poor attendance but submitted that his absences were genuine.
His former employer, meanwhile, alleged that the worker had missed 202 days of work by taking sick leave between 2011 and 2016 (with none in 2013), and that it had no alternative but to dismiss him from his job.
The worker submitted that he was dismissed from his role after just under 10 years in the job at the beginning of 2017.
He told the WRC that, after he was sacked, he was unsuccessful in securing another job.
On a number of occasions in 2008, 2009 and 2010, he received warnings over late arrival to work and not turning up.
In April 2011, he had an interview with the HR department where he told them that “all the leave had been certified by his GP and was a result of stress and during this time [his] mother was in the terminal phase of her illness”.
After receiving a final written warning in September 2011, he said his attendance improved significantly between April 2012 and March 2014, missing only 19 days during this period.
Furthermore, he submitted that the company’s record of his sick days are incorrect.
Nonetheless, he did received another written warning on 24 January 2013 in relation to absences on the 25 and 28 December 2012.
A series of written warnings continued to be issued in the subsequent years, with him eventually being informed on 12 October 2016 that his employment would be terminated.
He appealed the decision but was notified on 29 November 2016 that the decision had been upheld.
The WRC said: “The complainant’s legal representative submitted that the complainant’s dismissal, in all the circumstances, is unreasonable, disproportionate and procedurally flawed.
“It was accepted that the complainant had difficulties with absenteeism in the first number of years, of his employment, but it was urged within the hearing of this matter that not enough regard was had for his personal circumstances to include the death of his mother or to the significant improvement in the period April 2012 to March 2014.”
Furthermore, it was the man’s case that his dismissal was “procedurally unfair, unreasonable and grossly disproportionate” and he sought reinstatement to the position he held before he was sacked.
The local authority submitted that the worker had a “particularly poor attendance record over a number of years” and that “no medical evidence ever indicated that there was an underlying condition”.
Due to these issues, it said it reached the point where it could not have confidence in the worker to remain in employment.
According tot he employer, the “correct number of days of sick leave… are 90 days in 2011, 15 days in 2012, 52 in 2014, 18 in 2015 and 27 in 2016″.
It said that it referred the worker to occupational health providers for assessment and, after attending on five occasions, no underlying condition was ever found and he was declared fit for work each time.
He was also referred to support services within the workplace in relation to the death of his mother and other personal issues, the employer said.
The WRC said: “Ultimately, the respondent company submitted it had no option but to dismiss the complainant. Further, it was not minded, in the circumstances as outlined above, to either reinstate or re-engage the complainant.”
The WRC adjudicator said they were satisfied that the local authority had conformed to the generally accepted standard of fairness and objectivity that would normally be used in such cases.
They said that they had sympathy for the worker’s situation and of the difficulties he had encountered in the course of his employment but judged that his case did not succeed.
The adjudicator said: “There were substantial grounds justifying the dismissal and that said dismissal resulted wholly or mainly from inter alia the conduct of the employee.”
As a result, the man’s unfair dismissal claim was not upheld.