Case Number: ADJ-00006415. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ-00006415
Date27 July 2015
PartiesA Personal Assistant V A Charity
Procedure:

In accordance with Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 – 2015following the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.

Background:

The Complainant was employed as a PA from the 15th December 2005 to the 14th July 2016. She alleges that she was absent from work on sick leave since September 2014 as a result of a workplace injury. She stated that she submitted medical certificates to the Respondent on an ongoing basis during the period of her absence. She informed the Respondent by email on the 20th June 2016 that she was ready to return to work as the social welfare review board confirmed that she was fit to return to work. On the 14th July 2016, she received a letter from the Respondent stating: “As you have been absent without leave since 7th November 2015, we have had no other option but to adopt the view that you did not wish to continue in your employment with the respondent. As such, your previous working hours have been reallocated and are therefore no longer available. Your contract of employment with the respondent is therefore ceased with immediate effect.” She wrote to the Respondent on the 17th August and pointed out that she continued to provide medical certificates to [the respondent] throughout her period of absence from work due to the effects of a work related back injury and the suggestion that no medical certificates have been received since 6th November 2015 is totally incorrect. The Respondent wrote to the Complainant on the 25th October 2016 “During the period June 2015, July 2015, August 2015 and October 2015 there were various communications exchanged between you and the [respondent] in relation to your sick leave and your failure to submit medical certificates and the consequences of the failure to do so. The last medical certificate received by the respondent was on the 9th October 2015. Therefore, you are considered to be absent without leave. You were reminded on numerous occasions of your obligations to comply with the provisions of the [respondent] Absence Management Policy and the consequences of failing to do so. Consequently, you frustrated your contract of employment and are no longer an employer of the [respondent]. The Complainant filed a complaint under the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 on the 17th December 2016 alleging that she was unfairly dismissed by the Respondent.

Summary of Respondent’s Case:

The Respondent outlined the following submissions at the hearing: The Respondent is in receipt of recent email correspondence of the 20th and 27th June 2016 in which the Complainant indicated her intention to return to work, having been cleared to do so by the Social Welfare Medical Review Board. The Complaint has been absent from work from September 2014. The Respondent received medical certificates covering her absence up to 6th November 2015, however no further medical certificates have been received since that date. The respondent recognises that ill health is an unavoidable fact of life and to this end has an Absence Management Policy in place which sets out the rules governing sick pay and the procedures to be followed when availing of sick leave. From previous correspondence from HR over the course of the Complainant’s absence, you were advised that employees are required to comply with the provisions of the policy when they are unable to attend work due to illness. Specifically, medical certificates are required from the 3rd day onwards and must cover the full period of the absence. Medical certificates much be submitted on a fortnightly basis in a timely manner to facilitate rostering and cover arrangements so as to ensure service delivery is not impacted. The Respondent has not received medical certificates or any other communication from the Complainant since the 7th November 2015 and she has not been on any other form of approved leave. The Complainant has been viewed as being absent without leave effective from that date. Employment is dependent on the employer providing a role...

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