Posted: August 3rd, 2018
The Labour Court has ordered Kepak Convenience Foods Unlimited Co to pay former Business Development Executive, Gráinne O’Hara, €7,500 over continued breaches of the Organisation of Working Time as she was required to deal with out-of-hours work emails, including some after midnight. This led to additional work of over 48 hours a week on a number of occasions.
Ms O’Hara’s contract of employment with the Kepak firm required her to work 40 hours per week. She claimed that she worked close to 60 hours a week. To back up her argument, Ms O’Hara submitted copies of emails that she sent to and/or received from her employers both earlier that her normal start time and later than normal finish time on multiple time when she was employed there.
Along with this, Ms O’Hara submitted that emails that were sent to her employers and responses that were received from her employer prior to 8am. Ms O’Hara told the court she was not provided with a copy of all of her emails by her former company.
Ms O’Hara worked with the Kepak firm at its Blanchardstown facility in Dublin from July 2016 until April 14th 2017.
Kepak firm responded to the claims stating that that the level of work carried out by Ms O’Hara was normal for their staff members, none of whom work longer that the 48 hour weekly maximum set out in legislation.
In its final report the Labour Court acknowledged that Kepak did not provide a complete file of Ms O’Hara’s emails and gave no proof to contradict her evidence in relation to this.
The court ruled that Kepak firm breached the Organisation of Working Time Act by allowing Ms O’Hara to work over 48 hours a week and that Ms O’Hara’s complaint had a firm basis.
Ms O’Hara was appealing the quantum of an Adjudication Officer’s ruling that she be given a work injury compensation award of €6,240. She (Ms O’Hara) claimed that the Adjudication Officer did not award her an adequate amount of compensation “for the systemic nature of the breaches of the Act involved in the case”. The Labour Court increased the Adjudication Officer’s award by 20% to €7,500.