Recent WRC case is a warning for employers when managing conflict in the workplace
Michelle McDonagh, Consulting and Client Relationship Manager, Adare Human Resource Management
Conflict and disputes are unavoidable in the workplace given colleagues quite often have different
views and opinions. However, how the conflict and disputes are resolved is crucially important. If managed quickly and respectfully, then formal action is not normally required. However, when conflicts are not addressed effectively and allowed to go unattended there can be significant disruption and costs to the Organisation.
In our most recent HR Barometer Report 6.1 we found that nearly half (46%) of organisations experienced workplace conflict in 2021. Bullying accounted for 17% of all employee issues according to the report.
Employers also need to consider the potential risk of issues escalating to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC). A recent case is a stark reminder of how not handling conflict and disputes can have significant consequences.
Record award of €329,000 for Unfair Dismissal
It was widely reported that the WRC made a record award of €329,000 to a Sales Executive for unfair dismissal. The Sales Executive was dismissed on the grounds of serious misconduct after two separate allegations of bullying in May and June 2019.
Background to the case
A Sales Executive, who had been working with the company since December 2016, was promoted in April 2019 to the position of Enterprise Account Executive. Five months after the promotion, he was dismissed. Initially, the matter was dealt with informally but after a short period of time, it was claimed the Sales Executive’s behaviour only worsened. A formal investigation was then launched
and on 17th June 2019, the employee was dismissed on the grounds of gross misconduct.
It was the employee’s argument that the dismissal was disproportionate and too much emphasis has been placed on discussions and emails rather than any formal procedures.
While it had been found that he did engage in some inappropriate behaviours, these fell short of warranting his dismissal. The WRC stated that that no formal warning had been given to the employee and the grounds for dismissal were “unclear”. It was also noted that the employee was observing Ramadan during the period in question and the WRC Adjudicator said that any reasonable employer would try to understand if this was causing any issues for him.
On 17th September, the employee was dismissed following a disciplinary meeting the previous day.
Considerations for Employers
To help support Chamber members, we have created a short factsheet that outlines the Fair Grounds for Dismissal, what constitutes an Unfair Dismissal and guidance on appropriate Disciplinary procedures – this can be downloaded from the following link.
If you like to setup a call with a memberof their team to understand how Adare Human Resource Management can help you to manage any disciplinary issues you have, represent you in the WRC or train your managers in how to stay compliant and protect your business against unnecessary costs, please just email email@example.com orclick here to book a call.