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Labour Court puts High Burden of Proof on Employer re Communication of Breached Policy

Labour Court: UDD1830 – Aurico Co-operative Society Limited v Jonathon Bowens

The Employee was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct, which was the failure to follow the Respondent’s policy in relation to “card not present transactions”. At the time of the alleged incident, the Claimant was already on a final warning for another till related matter.

In the case before the Court, the Respondent was seeking to rely on the “failure to follow an instruction” as a basis, inter alia, to dismiss the Claimant. It was alleged that an instruction concerning the new policy was given to the Claimant on the shop floor in the course of work sometime within a two-month timespan. Although, the Claimant did not recall such instruction. Furthermore, it was held that the Claimant was not given a written copy of the instruction or policy nor was the policy displayed in the workplace. Around the same time, two other workers also breached the policy which raised the question as to how clearly was the policy was understood by the staff in general and the importance attached by management to this particular policy. At no time were staff advised that a breach of this policy could lead to disciplinary action up to and including dismissal. The Claimant was awarded €12,500 by the WRC, which was upheld by the Labour Court.

This case emphasises the importance on Employers’ to inform their staff of new policies being introduced into the business and have proof of the date of such communication. Employers’ must ensure that all Employees’ understand the new policy, are aware of the disciplinary consequences should they breach the policy, and it is advisable for the policy to be displayed in a common area in the workplace.

For any queries, please contact Anne O’Connell Solicitors at info@aocsolicitor.ie or +353 1 2903580

June 2018

Anne O’Connell
1-3 Burton Hall Road
Dublin 18

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