Richard Grogan on employment law: Notification of hours
Employment law solicitor Richard Grogan of Richard Grogan & Associates writes on laws governing notification of hours.
In the case of a Public Transport Company and a Worker WTC/17/10, the Labour Court dealt with a case under section 17, which is the issue of an employee being required to be given at least 24 hours notice before the first day or, as the case may be, the day in each week where her or she requires the employee to work. This is where there would be no standard start and finishing times in the contact of employment.
The employer claims there was a collective agreement effectively providing for starting times between 4.30am–10am and that this would be notification of the normal start and finishing times.
The employer contented that having start times between two particular times was sufficient to comply with the requirement of notifying the employee of the time that he would normally work.
The Court was very clear that the scheduled start and finishing times may be those that he will normally work on each day of the week on which he is rostered for early duties. Alternatively it may be a precise time that varies on one or more days that will be notified to him 24 hours in advance of that departure from his normal start time. The Court found that it cannot be a range of starting times which are spread over five and a half hours ranging from 4.30am to 10am.
The Court pointed out that such a range deprives the complainant of knowledge of his starting time and substituted it with a starting time that has no foundation in the Act.
The Court found that the infringement was systematic within the employer’s rostered notification system, but that the employer was taking steps to provide staff with at least 24 hours notice of their start and finishing time. The Court has very helpfully pointed out that the awarded compensation decided upon by the Adjudication Officer in the case was reasonable and proportionate. The Court, however, very importantly pointed out that were the respondent not taking steps to bring itself in line with the terms of the Act, the Court would consider a substantially higher award of compensation.
In this case, the sum of €1,200 was awarded. This is an extremely important statement by the Court not only in relation to the law but as to the attitude which the Court would take to setting compensation. Compensation under section 17 is a statutory provision which does not derive from European Law and therefore the persuasive element of any award would not be relevant when considering compensation.
This case is a timely reminder for employers of the importance of ensuring employees get 24 hours notice of start and finishing times.