WRC Make Near Record Award


By Andy Walsh, Solicitor

Workplace Relations Commission makes near record award which highlights the potential exploitation of migrant workers. In a recent Workplace Relations Commission decision (WRC), adjudicator Ms. Elizabeth Spellman made an award in the sum of €143,268 in favour of Ms. Sharanjeet Kaur, a chef and former employee of Bombay Bhappa Ltd, trading as Bombay House in Skerries, Co Dublin. The sum amounted to the second-highest award made so far this year by the WRC.

The employee arrived in Ireland from Malaysia in 2020 on a General Employment Permit (meaning that the holder of the permit is tied to their employer for a period of twelve months save for exceptional circumstances). Ms. Spellman found that a litany of employment law breaches arose in respect of Ms. Kaur’s employment including:

  1. Egregious discrimination on gender grounds contrary to the Employment Equality Act 1988 (the maximum compensation of two years’ pay – €60,000 was awarded in this respect);
  2. Unfair dismissal contrary to the Unfair Dismissals Act 1977 (a further years pay – €30,000 was awarded);
  3. Unlawful deductions contrary to the Payment of Wages Act 1991 (an award in the sum of €7,450 was made on this basis); and
  4. Ms. Spellman made various further awards arising from the denial of Sunday premium pay, shift breaks, annual leave and paid holiday entitlements together with an award in the sum of €7,248 for a shortfall in wages contrary to the National Minimum Wage Act 2000.

The Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland has said more than 100,000 General Employment Permits were issued over the last three years and employees can be subjected to exploitation on the basis that they are generally compelled to remain with their employer for a period of twelve months.

In a recent case, KOD Lyons represented one holder of such a permit in a dispute with their employer. The employee was working in a logistics company and was subjected to a purported dismissal arising from alleged performance issues. The employee was not provided with a performance improvement plan and anomalies arose in respect of the company’s adherence to their stated disciplinary procedures. Following correspondence with the company, the purported dismissal was vitiated and the employee was reinstated.

Holders of General Employment Permits are reminded that their rights under Irish employment legislation can and should be vindicated notwithstanding the twelve-month service obligations arising under the permits.

KOD Lyons’ Immigration Department has assisted many holders of such permits in availing of a Reactivation Employment Permit in circumstances where ill-treatment arises which enables employees to sever the twelve-month employment service obligation.

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