Ash cloud delay led to unfair dismissal


A 36-YEAR-OLD Hungarian national who was delayed in returning to work after his holidays in 2010 by the volcanic ash cloud has been awarded €1,000 for unfair dismissal.

Gyorgy Takacs, Cloudereen, Timoleague, Co Cork, took a case to the Employment Appeals Tribunal against Wayne Santry, Garryndruig, Co Cork, a farmer who bred and sold horses.

Mr Takacs, who was engaged in manual labour and cleaning work around the farm, went on holidays for two weeks ending on April 14th, 2010, but did not return to the yard until April 30th.

He said he had been delayed in Hungary by the volcanic ash cloud that had been impeding aviation at that time, and he ultimately had to return overland.

The farmer indicated through a second Hungarian employee, whom Mr Takacs had contacted, that if the claimant did not make personal contact with the farmer he could take it that he was on notice.

But Mr Takacs indicated to the tribunal that because of his poor English he had communicated with his co-worker and another Hungarian friend who lived in Bandon, and he relied on them to notify his employer.

Acknowledging that the absence of Mr Takacs from the yard had created difficulties for the farmer, the tribunal nonetheless found the farmer acted precipitously in the circumstances, and the claimant was genuinely prevented from returning to work on time by the presence of the volcanic ash cloud.

Mr Takacs was remiss in not speaking directly with the farmer regarding what happened and had to accept a certain amount of responsibility himself, but the tribunal took the view that Mr Takacs had been unfairly dismissed. It made an award of €1,000.

In addition, the tribunal made a further award of €609.82 under the Minimum Notice and Terms of Employment Act.