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No written contract costs Employer €4,000 in Constructive Dismissal case


This case concerns a co-appeal in relation to an unfair dismissal claim. The Complainant worked for the Respondent but there was no written contract between the parties. Both parties gave contrasting evidence as to the contents of the agreement reached in relation to the Complainant working outside of the Limerick area. The Complainant submitted that both parties agreed that the Complainant would not be expected to work outside of Limerick. The Respondent however disagreed, he contended that the agreement not to work outside of Limerick was temporary, and was subject to change. The Complainant’s appealed the decision as he disagreed that with the Adjudication officer that he contributed to his constructive dismissal. The Respondent is appealing on the grounds that the Adjudicator erred in law and in fact, and that the complainant was not unfairly dismissed, but left the company voluntarily.


The case ultimately turned on the fact that the Respondent failed to provide a written contract of employment, which would have provided clarity to the issue of geographical work. The issue seems to have been of great importance to the Complainant, who raised the issue prior to accepting the job. Thus on the balance of probabilities it was held that the complainant proved that he had been constructively dismissed. The Adjudicator determined that as this term was of such importance to the Complainant, the issue goes to the root of the employment contract. However, the Labour Court agreed with the Adjudicator’s decision that the Complainant contributed to his dismissal by failing to attend a meeting with the Respondent to discuss the issue before resigning as this extinguished any possibility for the Respondent to rectify the issue, and so he contributed to his dismissal. The Labour Court upheld the award of €4,000 by the WRC.

Take away for employers:

Employers must ensure that they provide employees with written terms of employment as required by law. Without written contracts with the terms of employment set out therein, any dispute about the terms are likely to fall in favour of the employee as it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure that the terms of employment were provided.



1st August 2019

Anne O’Connell Solicitors

Fitzwilliam Hall

Fitzwilliam Place

Dublin 2.


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