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Former Cemetery Hr Manager Awarded €47,500 in Unfair Dismissal Compensation

An unfair dismissal compensation award of €47,500 has been awarded to a former human resources manager at a cemetery by the Workplace Relations Commission. The Commission ruled that his dismissal was ‘both substantively and procedurally unfair’.

The man in question was earning a salary of €51,500 when he departed his role in October 2016, having worked at the cemetery since 1996. Following being sick during March and April 2016 he returned to work and was informed that a number of concerns had arisen in relation to his work practices.

He was suspended from work, with pay, from April to September of that year while an internal investigation was carried out.

At a disciplinary hearing conducted by the deputy CEO of the cemetery on September 29, he was advised he was being dismissed from his position with immediate effect, due to his actions constituting gross misconduct.

The former HR manager defended himself, emphasising that he had an unblemished disciplinary record before the ‘concern’ that were used to justify his dismissal.

These concerns included the removal of data from a company-owned hard drive, inadequate management of health and safety records, and the manner in which he handled the long-term absence of a colleague.

Defending himself, he argued that he had removed the data from the hard drive due to a legitimate data request relating to the non-payment of bonuses for a period of two years. The data request in question had been handled by the deputy CEO.

He also did not accept the suggestion that he had mismanaged the prolonged absence of the other person, saying that far from exposing the company to litigation or financial risk, he had in fact saved the company from harm.

Adjudication officer Eugene Hanly was critical of the dismissed man regarding all three points raised by the cemetery.

However, he ruled that the various concerns raised by the cemetery neither collectively nor individually were sufficient grounds for the dismissal and he ruled that the company must pay the man €47,500 in unfair dismissal compensation within six weeks.