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Employee’s position held to be redundant after Employer changes his place of work

Facts:

The complainant worked with the respondent in Bandon for 10 years. He was certified as unfit to work for a period of 1 year.  During this sick leave, the respondent moved the Complainant’s job position to Cork city. On returning to work the Complainant discovered that his job had moved. This move would double his commute, and so he claimed that this was an unreasonable change of his terms of employment and he argued that there was no provision to make such an alteration in his contract. The Complainant had not been given any prior notice nor did any discussion take place with him regarding this change. The Complainant resigned from the job and claimed he had been made redundant. The respondent submitted that there was no act on its part which operated to terminate the complainant’s employment.

Held:

The complainant sought to rely on section 9(1) (c) of the Redundancy Payments Act, which states that a dismissal can be effected by the employee himself. The Adjudicator held that the Respondent’s actions were so unreasonable that it was reasonable for the claimant to terminate his contract. The complainant was entitled to redundancy payment.

Take away for employers:

Employers should err on the side of caution when changing work locations of employees as it may not be reasonable in the circumstances. Changes made whilst a worker is on leave must be communicated and discussed with those workers. If such discussion does not take place, companies will have difficulty proving reasonableness and if this is the case the actions of an employer of  increasing the commute of an employee in this manner could amount to conduct entitling termination.

https://www.workplacerelations.ie/en/cases/2019/july/rpd1910.html

1st August 2019

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

Fitzwilliam Hall

Fitzwilliam Place

Dublin 2.

www.aocsolicitors.ie

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