Disciplinary Procedures Insufficient – Award for Constructive Dismissal

Background to Complaint

The employee worked as a personal assistant to the property director of Renault.

The employee went on leave to attend her brother’s funeral and then went out on sick leave but kept the director up to date on her progress.
The employee was then asked to attend a meeting with the HR manager and the HR director and the employee was told in the meeting only that it was a stage one disciplinary meeting.
The Employee stated that she felt the property director was trying to force her to leave.
The employee indicated that her position was advertised as vacant while she was still with the company and the property director never gave her any work to do. The employee resigned soon afterwards.
The property director for the Respondent explained that the employee was often late for work or did not come in at all. The property director explained that the employee would usually text him if she was not going to be in.
He referred the Tribunal to a warning letter that had been given to the employee regarding her absences and poor timekeeping.
The property director said that the company was relocating to Santry and that the employee had decided not to go.
The HR director for the Respondent told the Tribunal that the meeting which took place with the employee was only an informal pre-disciplinary discussion in order to find out what was going on and that it was not a disciplinary meeting.

EAT Finds Disciplinary Procedures Insufficient

The Tribunal found that the employee had been constructively dismissed and awarded her €12,000 in compensation.
The Tribunal held that the procedures used by the Respondent’s personnel were unsatisfactory.

Lessons to Learn

It is important that employers remember that where they have disciplinary procedures in place they must be followed in their entirety and they cannot be used haphazardly.
It is also important that both the employer and employee understand the disciplinary procedures.
In this regard a staff handbook is useful as it clearly sets out when the disciplinary procedure should be used and under what circumstances.
Where a staff handbook is in place the employer needs to be aware of its contents and it should be provided to all employees.
Case: Pauline Giltrap v Glencullen Developments Ltd, Employment Appeals Tribunal, 2006

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