Tara Cassidy Bank of Ireland. ADJ 00034191. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Date14 November 2022
Hearing Date13 October 2022
Docket NumberADJ 00034191
RespondentBank of Ireland

Procedure:

In accordance with Section 8 of the Unfair Dismissals Acts 1977 following 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 and to present any evidence relevant to the complaint.

I conducted a remote hearing on 13th October 2022, in accordance with the Civil Law and Criminal Law (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2020 and Statutory Instrument 359/2020. The complainant was not represented, and the respondent was represented by Ms Bruton BL instructed by Kane Tuohy LLP, Solicitors. The complainant and respondent both made submissions in advance and at the hearing. The complainant, Ms Cassidy gave evidence under affirmation. Mr O’Connor, Business Advisor for the respondent, gave evidence under oath.

Background:

The complainant commenced employment with the respondent in December 2018 as a Customer Advisor. In December 2019 an opportunity arose for a new role within the bank. The proposed new role was a ‘Hybrid role’ which was distinguished from a ‘Customer Advisor’ and a ‘Mortgage Specialist’. Having expressed an interest in the role, the complainant commenced the responsibilities in accordance with the role profile contained in an email of 16th December 2019 entitled ‘New Role’. The complainant’s understanding was that the new role would lead to a pay review with the opportunity of advancing to a band 2 salary.

The respondent contends the new role was not authorised by the Human Resources Department and consequently there could be no progression towards a band 2 salary. The respondent claims that the complainant was not formally appointed and has not been performing the new Hybrid role in full.

Although some attempts were made by both parties to resolve matters, the complainant resigned her post in March 2021 and then referred a complaint of constructive dismissal to the Workplace Relations Commission.

Summary of Complainant’s Case:

The complainant gave evidence that she was encouraged to apply for the Hybrid role by her line manager. After applying and obtaining the new role, an email was sent to her on 16th December 2019 which set out an overview of the role. The email stated that her line manager would announce the staff moves the next day. The complainant stated that she commenced the role from this date. She added that she gave up her office and trained her replacement over the following weeks. She outlined that she had brought considerable new business to the bank in the new Hybrid role particularly in the form of new mortgage referrals.

Senior management informed her that the role was not authorised after she had been performing the role for up to 10 months. Consequently, her service in the new role had not advanced her towards a band 2 salary. On the potential salary review, the complainant was relying on an email of 15th November 2019 which referred to moving to band 2 salary once certain metrics were met.

The complainant outlined that the non-recognition of the Hybrid role along with the lack of progression towards a pay review caused her considerable stress and eroded her trust with senior management. She outlined that another staff member had transferred into the branch at band 2 salary in or around January 2021 which further undermined her position.

The complainant stated that she raised the issues continuously with line management and then formally with senior management in December 2020. She raised the issues with Human Resources in February/March 2021 who advised of the option of submitting a formal grievance. She resigned on 26th March 2021 and then raised a formal grievance. She was advised by Human Resources that it was not possible to raise a formal grievance as an ex-employee.

The complainant was cross-examined on whether she was formally offered the Hybrid role and whether she was undertaking the full range of duties as outlined in the role profile of 16th December 2019. The complainant was questioned on her performance reviews and whether her workload matched the full role profile.

She was asked about her failure to submit a formal grievance when an employee. She was questioned on her earnings after obtaining alternative employment.

The complainant was asked whether she received a formal contract on 12th March 2020 for ‘Mortgage Specialist’. The complainant denied receiving this contract and stated her first sight of it was when she received the respondent’s written submission to the Workplace Relations Commission.

Summary of Respondent’s Case:

The respondent’s position is that the complainant resigned from her post and denies that she was constructively dismissed. Mr O’Connor, Business Advisor, and line manager of the complainant gave direct evidence.

Mr O’Connor’s Evidence

He outlined that the Hybrid post was a ‘proposed post’ and that he was unaware of whether it was formally offered. He stated that it was going to take some weeks to back-fill the complainant’s post and realistically she could never have commenced the new role until March 2020. He stated that when COVID then hit, it changed matters due to restrictions on customer meetings.

He said that he had no direct involvement in the appointments process. He was aware from the end of February 2021 that the complainant was frustrated with developments and that she wanted to move from the bank. He clarified that the staff member on band 2 salary had transferred from another branch.

Under cross examination, he was questioned on the lack of communication to the complainant particularly when the new role was not authorised and why she was not requested to revert to her previous Customer Advisor role. He gave evidence that he was unaware of any specifics on the appointment and assumed matters were progressing between the complainant and senior management.

He was questioned on the criteria for the establishment of the Hybrid role which was due to other staff working a 4-day week. He was asked why matters did not proceed formally with creating the post as originally envisaged.

He...

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