The case of A General Operative v An Automotive Company ADJ 00017942 is a timely reminder that if an employee is unfit for work, no loss arises under the Unfair Dismissal Act 1977 (as amended).
Although the employee in this case won the claim for unfair dismissal, he had been in receipt of Illness Benefit continuously since 1st May 2018 and remained unfit for work at the date of the hearing.
The Workplace Relations Commission held that in circumstances where the complainant was unfit for work due to ill health, no loss accrued under the Unfair Dismissals Acts, 1977 -2015. The maximum compensation payable under the Act where there is no loss is four week’s gross pay.
In Unfair Dismissal Claims compensation is awarded based on loss of earnings. This is calculated from the date of dismissal to the date of the hearing and losses are also considered into the future. An employee is under an obligation to mitigate their losses meaning that they must make all reasonable efforts to get another job and have proof of job applications before a hearing etc. If an employee has no losses then the maximum award is one month’s salary.
A practical example of where there is no loss might be where an employee is dismissed on 1st October on a salary of 30,000 euro and finds another job shortly after on the same or higher salary. As outlined in this case an employee cannot be compensated for losses in an unfair dismissal claim where they are certified as medically unfit for work.