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Labour Court

Dublin City Council workers miss average of 10 to 12 days a year through absenteeism

The Labour Court heard that the average absenteeism in the Council is approximately 5%.

WORKERS AT THE largest local authority in the country, Dublin City Council miss on average 10 to 12 days a year through absenteeism.

That is according to senior HR official at the Council, Gerry Geraghty who told the Labour Court that the average absenteeism in the Council is approximately 5% – 10–12 days per annum.

Geraghty was giving evidence in an alleged unfair dismissal case where the Labour Court has found that the dismissal of outdoor worker and street cleaner was fair.

He was dismissed in December 2016 for continuous absenteeism constituting a failure to provide the Council with a regular and efficient service.

The dismissal letter issued to the man told him that the “point of no return” had been reached concerning his absenteeism.

The worker had incurred excessive sick leave of 17 days between April 26th 2016 and 11 October 2016 in circumstances where he was the subject of a live final written warning relating exclusively to excessive sick-leave.

Administrative Officer at the Council’s HR Department, Debbie McLoughlin told the Labour Court hearing that when she asked him about the 17 days absence, he stated that when the children get sick, he gets sick. 

McLoughlin stated that the man had five final warnings and had paid no attention to them as his absence record continued to be a problem.

McLoughlin stated that despite the fact that he was an outdoor worker and there are approximately 450 outdoor workers in similar conditions, his absence rates were excessive.

At the hearing, Geraghty gave evidence of the man’s absenteeism – 89 days on 5 occasions in 2011; 12 days on six occasions in 2012; 25.5 days on 11 occasions in 2013; 41 days on 10 occasions in 2014; 19 days on eight occasions in 2015 and 46 days on five occasions in 2016.

Counsel for the man stated that the decision to impose a final written warning and a two-day suspension on him was disproportionate when account was taken of the average absenteeism level of the public service which in 2016 was 8.9 days and the average level among local authorities is 10.1 days per year.

He pointed out that he had 12 days sick leave in the 12-month period between March 2015 and March 2016.

He told the hearing that he was aware that his attendance was not good over the years. He said that his mother was admitted to a hospice in 2009 and she died in April 2011.

He said that he does not drink or take drugs.

In cross-examination when he was asked what more could the Council have done, he replied that the Council could have given him one more chance. He said that he was not deliberately missing days.

Deputy chairwoman at the Labour Court, Caroline Jenkinson found that the decision to dismiss him falls within the definition of a ‘band of reasonableness’.

Jenkinson stated that if his level of absenteeism were to be repeated widely within the Council, it would be wholly unsustainable for the local authority.

Jenkinson added that the Council did all reasonably possible to explore the reasons for the continued absenteeism and having taken a series of progressive, measured and appropriate steps to reverse it, reasonably formed the view that it had run out of options.