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Former security guard gets €12,000 compensation over post-pregnancy roster changes

Laura O’Connor resigned her position with G4S Secure Solutions in August 2013.

Image: Shutterstock/Naypong

THE EMPLOYMENT APPEALS Tribunal (EAT) has upheld a decision to award €12,000 in compensation to a former security guard who was rostered to work night shifts after having a baby.

Laura O’Connor had worked between the hours of 9am and 5pm before beginning her maternity leave in April 2012.

Her former employer, G4S Secure Solutions, took an unsuccessful appeal against the Rights Commissioner’s decision to the EAT.

O’Connor began her employment with the security company in June 2009.

She commenced maternity leave in April 2012 and took her remaining annual leave before returning to work in February 2013.

On the morning of her return, she turned up to her usual place of work in the IFSC area of Dublin to find a colleague who had previously worked the night shift in her position.

He told her he was now working there full-time and that she should contact the company’s HR department.

O’Connor told the EAT that a HR officer advised her to go home and said that they would be in touch about the situation.

She was later asked to attend a meeting at the G4S head office the following week, at which she was told that another security guard had taken over her previous position.

Later that week, the respondent received a roster in which she was put down to work night shifts at the Priory Hall development in north Dublin.

She told the HR department that she was unable to work during the night as she had a young baby.

The EAT heard that G4S advised her to cover the shifts but said it would look into the matter further.

O’Connor said the situation had impacted on her health and that she had no alternative but to tender her resignation.

She told the EAT that the company, despite being fully aware of the date she was due to return to work, had not informed her that she would be positioned at another location to that of her previous four years in employment.

‘Acted reasonably’

G4S said the respondent was not returned to her original position in the IFSC due to an incident that had occurred on its client’s premises while she was on maternity leave.

After security personnel were relocated and a new team assigned, the client told the company it was now satisfied with the new team in place and did not want any other staff moved or replaced.

A HR official for the company said the respondent’s position was not site-specific and that this was stated in her written contract of employment.

The official said that it was a “very unfortunate” oversight that the respondent had not been contacted about the change of location before she returned to work.

The official told the EAT that it was explained to O’Connor that she would not be required to work night shifts on a permanent basis.

The company said alternative offers of work involved no changes to the terms and conditions of the respondent’s employment, status or salary.

The HR department provided evidence that it had tried to contact her on several occasions to discuss her rosters to no avail.

An official explained that the respondent’s union representative was told that the company was willing to meet with her to discuss all issues if she submitted a fit-to-attend certificate from her doctor.

She was on certified sick leave due to stress at the time, the official said, but the requested documentation was never submitted and therefore no meetings took place.

The union official said they had pointed the company to its obligations under sections 26 and 27 of the Maternity Protection Act.

In a recent ruling, the EAT determined the Rights Commissioner had correctly judged that the employer had not significantly breached the claimant’s employment contract.

It ruled, however, that the respondent had “acted reasonably” in tendering her resignation.

Read:  Tesco ordered to pay former worker €41,000 after dismissing her for not paying for a fried breakfast

Read: Dunnes worker sacked after being caught in garda sting selling wine to teen

About the author:

Catherine Healy

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