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Friday 27 January 2023 Dublin: 6°C
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Packaging firm ordered to pay €12,500 to unfairly dismissed pregnant worker
The woman’s P45 was left on her desk while she was on sick leave.

THE WORKPLACE RELATIONS Commission (WRC) has ordered a packaging firm to pay a female worker €12,500 after finding that she was unfairly dismissed while pregnant.

The woman told the WRC that she discovered that she was pregnant on 6 January 2017 and became unwell four days later on 10 January.

The woman – who worked as a general operative at the firm – stated that she told her employer of her pregnancy the same day and she submitted a medical cert up to the end of January.

The woman stated that sometime later, while on sick leave she received a phone call from a co-worker to tell her that there was an envelope for her at her workplace for collection.

The woman’s husband collected the envelope which contained her P45.

The woman gave evidence that she had never requested a P45 nor had anyone on her behalf.

The woman stated that she has had no further contact from the company since and that there were no procedures followed in relation to the termination of her employment.

The woman’s baby was born on 19 September 2017.

‘Not credible’ 

In his findings, WRC Adjudication Officer, Pat Brady stated that the employer’s position that the worker requested the P45 “is not credible”.

Brady said that there are a number of aspects of the employer’s evidence that were not convincing.

Brady stated that there was no reason why the worker should seek to terminate employment.

He stated:

A resignation or a termination on the date it occurred would have had adverse effects for her claim for maternity benefit.

He added: “Further, any presumption on the part of an employer that a request for a P45 is equivalent to a resignation, or that it otherwise triggers the termination of the employment is simply that; a presumption.”

Brady pointed out:

The Department of Social Protection may seek a P45 in connection with an application for benefit and an employer who translates this into a resignation is taking a very considerable risk and would be well advised to verify the purpose for which it is being sought.

Brady stated that in his evidence the employer stated that ‘he assumed’ that the complainant was terminating her employment.

He stated: “This will not suffice to discharge the burden of proof, and certainly not in the face of strong contrary evidence by a credible complainant.”

In his findings, Brady ordered the employer €12,000 in respect of unfair dismissal and €500 concerning a complaint under the Terms of Employment Act.

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