News from the Courts – Employee dismissed during probation period

Employee dismissed during probation period awarded €90,000 in compensation

In a recent case before the Labour Court where a well known hotel dismissed an employee during the probation period because they felt it wasn’t working out, were found to have unfairly dismissed the employee in question and the employee was awarded a settlement of €90,000 in full and final settlement.

At the hearing, the claimant said he was headhunted by the Employer to accept a role as General Manager of the Hotel which meant he had moved from Dublin to Kerry to take up the role in January 2018 and that he was dismissed without warning on 27th April 2018 by the Managing Director. While the employer rejected that he had indeed been headhunted, the Managing Director felt he was entitled to dismiss the claimant as the contract of employment unequivocally provides that either party can terminate the contract by giving written notice during the probationary period.

However, when the matter was reviewed by the Court, they noted that the Claimant was furnished with a 36-month fixed term contract, which provided that “All dismissals will be carried out in accordance with the Provisions of Part Two of this Contract”. Part Two of the contract outlined the disciplinary procedures, which included:

  • the carrying out a full investigation before dismissal;
  • being informed of the reasons for the dismissal;
  • the right to reply;
  • the right to be accompanied at meetings and the right to appeal a decision to dismiss.

Having considered the positions of both sides, the Court was of the view that the procedures adopted in the termination of the Claimant’s employment were seriously flawed. He was not afforded fair procedures in accordance with the Code of Practice on Grievance and Disciplinary Procedures S.I. No. 146 of 2000.

Where an employee is considered unsuitable for permanent employment, the Court accepts that an employer has the right, during a probationary period, to decide not to retain that employee in employment. However, the Court takes the view that this can only be carried out where the employer adheres strictly to fair procedures. This requirement of procedural fairness is rooted in the common law concept of natural justice.

The Court was satisfied that the Claimant was not provided with details of any performance issues; no warning was given that his employment was in jeopardy; he was not afforded the right to representation; he was not provided with reasons for his dismissal and he was not afforded an opportunity to reply. Therefore, the Court was satisfied that he was denied natural justice.

Voltedge Management