Terry Gorry: The First Thing I Ask an Employee When He Contacts Me
The first thing I ask an employee when he/she contacts me with a complaint about their employer is „how long are you working there?”
Because without 12 months continuous employment there may be very little I can do for them. (To qualify for the protection of the unfair dismissals legislation the employee needs 12 months service)
That’s not to say that the employee cannot take any action; but it is much more difficult, and expensive. For example he/she can take a case for unfair dismissal to the Labour Court and obtain a favourable recommendation.
But because it is only a recommendation the employer can simply ignore it. And quite frankly, there is no way of enforcing it legally.
However while certain small employers can afford to ignore a Labour Court recommendation, other employers cannot do so easily. This is because they may have a wider audience to think about and the embarrassment of ignoring a Labour Court recommendation could prove very costly for them.
Remember the employee can kick up a fair old stink with a favourable recommendation and with social media outlets being so powerful nowadays, he/she could cause some serious embarrassment for you as employer.
He could also picket your premises and if your workplace is unionized this could cause serious problems for you with customers and suppliers.
The employee could also bring a Civil Court action for wrongful dismissal or a claim to the Equality Tribunal if he/she was discriminated against.
It is fair to say that unfair dismissal claims are amongst the most costly (time and money) that employers face. And many employers wonder how they are to legally terminate an employee’s contract.
It is possible but needs to be handled with great care. Because as many as 80% of unfair dismissal claims are won because the employer failed to follow proper and fair procedures.
I will tell you about fair procedures in a later email because it is a topic that deserves some extra scrutiny.
In the meantime if you want to learn more about the nitty gritty of unfair dismissal/constructive dismissal click here.