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Probation dismissal risk – Labour Court award €33,400

IRN has reported on a case in the Labour Court of an unfair dismissal case taken by a Quality Engineer who was dismissed within 2 months of starting his job.The Company dismissed the employee as they felt he was performing below the expected standard of his job title, and the Company also claimed that the employee was late for work on a number of occasions, including his first day – and that he had refused to work extra hours.

The engineer took a case of unfair dismissal under the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 as he could not have taken a case under the Unfair Dismissals Act – it would not be applicable.

The employee refuted the Company’s allegations, and stated that he had never received any written details of his alleged under performance. He was called to a meeting that he did not realise was a meeting to dismiss him, and he was not offered representation. He did not receive a letter of dismissal and did not receive an opportunity to appeal.

The Labour Court found a clear conflict between the evidence of the Company and the employee, in particular around extra hours that the employee was asked to work. The Court stated that the Company’s decision not to adhere to its own disciplinary procedures (because the employee was on probation) was ‘misconceived’.

In summary, employers need to be careful in managing probation, offering fair comment on performance and providing support to the individual ensuring that they are treated fairly. Managing the dismissal should be handled carefully and following best practice.