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Doctor loses unfair dismissal case against hospital in Labour Court

The doctor claimed that he did not refuse to work his contracted hours and wanted to work on a two-week-on, two-weeks-off pattern, as other doctors were allowed to do.

However, the hospital stated that the complainant’s contract was terminated after it became clear that he would not be in a position to work his weekly contracted hours.

At the very outset of the hearing, the respondent raised a preliminary matter and asked the Adjudicator to consider the jurisdiction issue regarding the complaint.

“It said that the complainant has alleged on his complaint referral form to the Workplace Relations Commission that his dismissal, after working a total of eleven shifts in December 2017, was a result of him “exercising [his] right to force majeure leave,” according to the Court transcript.

“The respondent [the hospital] said that at no stage did the complainant ever make any request to the respondent for force majeure leave. It said that as the complainant fails to meet the one-year continuous requirement for a standard unfair dismissal complaint under Section 2(1) of the Act, the complaint should therefore fail.”

The Labour Court adjudicator stated that the doctor indicated on the Workplace Relations Commission’s Complaint Referral Form that he does not have the required one year’s service to take a  complaint under the Unfair Dismissal Act, 1977.

“However, he has indicated that this case is in connection to force majeure leave, where the required one year’s service is not a requirement,” according to the adjudicator.

“When I opened the hearing, it became clear from the evidence presented that this was not the case. Accordingly, based on the evidence adduced during the hearing, I find that this complaint is not in connection to force majeure leave under and in accordance with the Parental Leave Act, 1998. As the complainant was employed by the respondent for less than one year, I am satisfied that the complainant does not meet the necessary criteria for bringing a case under the Unfair Dismissal Act, 1977.”

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