The owners of a popular Dublin hotel have been ordered to pay its former general manager €27,760 in compensation after the Workplace Relations Committee ruled he was unfairly dismissed.
The WRC has upheld a complaint from Peter Brennan that the owner of The Address Connolly – formerly the North Star Hotel – on Amiens Street in Dublin for choosing to repeat when the hotel suffered a significant drop in revenue due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The hotel is part of the McGettigan Hotel Group, which owns a number of hotels in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Donegal Wicklow, as well as Dubai.
Mr. Brennan served as the hotel’s general manager for nearly three years when he was told in a meeting with the owner and director of human resources last January 18 that his position had become redundant. Brennan’s annual salary was €90,000 at the start of his employment, but had fallen to €49,920 by the time of his layoff.
The hotel owner has claimed that its operations have been severely affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and has been closed in line with government health, safety and environment guidelines for more than three months, while also suspending all food and beverage services for extended periods after it reopened due to ongoing restrictions.
The effects of the pandemic have led to a sharp drop in revenue turnover with revenue down nearly 94% compared to before the pandemic, the owner said. He told WRC that staff were drastically reduced as layoffs were necessary for the hotel’s survival.
The WRC heard that the total number of employees rose from 115 before the pandemic to 25 by early April 2020 and to 12 by the end of January this year through temporary layoffs.
The owner said this was the context of the manner in which Mr Brennan was temporarily laid off from October 1, 2020, before a decision to make him redundant with effect from February 1 this year.
As evidence, Mr. Brennan said he was asked to attend a meeting at the hotel on January 18 without any indication of its purpose. Mr. Brennan said he was told within five minutes that the decision had made him and his position redundant.
He claimed that he had not received any offer of representation and no counsel or appeal was permitted.
Mr. Brennan said that no mention was made of the selection criteria used to make him redundant apart from noting that his salary was prohibitively expensive, that trading had not improved and that the owner would complete his duties as general manager going forward.
He told WRC that he was not given any opportunity to discuss alternatives to redundancy or dismissal, while laying off any other employees was not considered. Mr. Brennan said he believed the decision to make it redundant had already been taken before the meeting took place.
WRC has learned that Mr. Brennan has applied for 29 more jobs and secured employment after retraining as a driving instructor earning an average of €500 per week.
Jim Dolan, the WRC arbitrator, who awarded the claimant’s compensation of €27,670, said the hotel owner’s actions were not by a reasonable employer.
Dolan said it’s important for employers to « identify and explore the feasibility of following less stringent redundancy procedures » because failure to do so could make any subsequent dismissal unfair.
« Spécialiste de la télévision sans vergogne. Pionnier des zombies inconditionnels. Résolveur de problèmes d’une humilité exaspérante. »