The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has ordered Ballinasloe Co-operative Livestock Mart Limited to pay over €3,600 in compensation to a worker.

Teresa Kenny, who began working as a “canteen manager” at the mart on January 1, 2002 on a set weekly payment of €250, lodged several complaints to the WRC on June 16, 2021.

She alleged that she did not receive a written statement of employment terms, was not paid sick leave in contravention of an implied term of her contract and did not accrue annual leave while on sick leave.

Ballinasloe Mart denied the allegations made by Kenny, stating that she had recieved a contract at or near the commencement of her employment.

The mart said that Kenny had no contractual entitlement to sick pay.

WRC hearing

The WRC said that a remote hearing on these matters was convened and finalised on December 10, 2021.

The commission ruled in favour of Kenny in relation to three complaints which she had lodged.

The WRC said it was accepted that the worker did not receive any terms of employment for around four years after she began in her role, nor was she given a copy of the statement by the mart.

The mart claimed that Kenny suffered little to no prejudice on foot of the breach of the terms of the Employment (Information) Act 1994.

The commission ruled that the mart’s failure to outline Kenny’s employment terms caused her “significant difficulties” towards the end of her employment.

It added that this “played no small part in the circumstances which led to the present complaint being lodged”.

The WRC awarded Kenny compensation of €750 in respect of this complaint.

Sick pay

Kenny claimed that a “custom and practice” had arisen that entitled her to be paid while she was out sick.

She said that an agreement was reached whereby she would receive a “top up” payment of €91/week while on sick leave.

Kenny said she was always paid while on sick leave and referenced three absences in 2014 and 2016 during which she received her full salary.

Kenny claimed that in August 2020, after she was signed off as unfit to work by her GP, her line manager advised her to apply for illness benefit and the mart would cover the €91/week shortfall of her wages.

However, on December 17, 2020, Kenny was advised that the mart would not be making the payment.

Kenny submitted that the non-payment of the same constituted a breach of the Payment of Wages Act.

The mart denied this allegation and stated that no such agreement existed, adding the complainant’s contract allowed for payment for two weeks of sick leave only.

However, the WRC found that the mart had agreed to pay Kenny €91 while she was on sick leave and this decision had constituted a change to her terms and conditions and awarded her €500 in compensation.

The commission also awarded Kenny €2,366.00 in compensation in respect of wages owed.