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Minister brings High Court action to clarify Labour Court ruling that a teacher is an “employee” of the Minister

Interesting report in the Irish Times today on a case I came across recently from the Labour Court.The Minister for Education has brought a High Court action seeking to clarify a Labour Court finding that a teacher is an “employee” of the Minister. The case arises from a complaint made against the Minister by a pre-school teacher in Galway on being denied access to a pension scheme for national school teachers. Leave was granted to the Minister yesterday to have the decision of the Labour Court judicially reviewed.In a ruling earlier this month, the Labour Court held that the teacher in question (Anne Boyle) was an employee of the Minister, should be included in the pension scheme and was awarded EURO 10,000 for discrimination.In its ruling the Labour Court referred to a number of cases and in particular to the case of Catholic University School v Dooley [2010] IEHC 496 (which had been decided just before the Rights commissioner had given its original decision in this case). In that case Dunne J stated inter alia“…………………it was decided I have come to the conclusion that because of the fact that the Minister determines the terms and conditions of the Department funded teacher and the school determines the terms and conditions of the privately paid teachers, the Labour Court has fallen into error in finding that the claimants were entitled to choose a full time Department funded teacher as a comparator. The school has no hand, act or part in determining the salary and other terms and conditions of the Department funded teacher. In determining the employer for the purpose of the legislation in relation to agency workers, the legislation expressly provides that the party paying the worker is, for the purposes of the legislation, the employer. I think the school is in an analogous position. I do  not accept that the chosen comparators have the same type of employment contract or relationship as the claimants with the school. To that extent, it seems to me that the Department has to be viewed as the employer of the chosen comparators for the purpose of the legislation”.The Labour Court here concluded on 4th July that as the Dooley case concerned interpretation of the same provisions of the Act as are in issue in the instant case, it believed it was bound to follow and apply the “ratio decidendi” of that decision. The Labour Court noted that it must hold the second named respondent (Minister for Education and Skills) as the Claimant’s employer for the purposes of the Act. 

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