Paddy Power faces overtime challenge from shop managers

Dispute over entitlement to overtime hours as staff claim company still needed shift cover

A group of managers at Paddy Power shops claim they were blocked from working overtime when the bookies opened after the first pandemic lockdown. Photograph: Andrew Redington/Getty Images

A group of managers at Paddy Power shops claim they were blocked from working overtime when the bookies opened after the first pandemic lockdown.

Seven employees represented by the Mandate trade union have lodged claims under the Payment of Wages Act against Paddy Power’s parent, Flutter Entertainment.

Mandate argues workers had unlawful deductions made to their pay when the company “unilaterally” took them off overtime hours that they had routinely worked prior to the lockdown, which had become part of an implied contract by “custom and practice”.

The company maintains overtime has always been voluntary, and that reduced hours and capacity at its betting shops from the summer of 2020 onward meant there was no business case for it.

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At a hearing on Wednesday, Marie McKenna told the Workplace Relations Commission that she had worked a 48-hour week since she became the manager of the Paddy Power shop in Mountview, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15 in 2004.

When she returned to work in June 2020 after a three-month lockdown, she was initially told by her district manager that “everyone was to be put in for their normal hours”, which she took to mean 48 hours as before.

“I did the roster and put myself in for my normal working hours and I was taken out,” she said, adding the district manager brought in staff from other areas or districts in to do her [overtime] hours.

“This was at a time when close contacts were supposed to be limited,” she said - adding that the staff who replaced her for the overtime hours were being paid at a lower rate.

Company case

Ibec employer relations executive Susan O’Riordan, who represented Flutter, said the company’s position in all the cases was that there had been no deduction as overtime had always been voluntary.

“At the time the claim form came in, business levels were down over 50 per cent. The company couldn’t afford to offer overtime,” she said – adding that there was no business case for it when opening hours for non-essential retail was restricted.

Ms O’Riordan submitted that the rosters were prepared four weeks in advance and the staff who covered absences were just those who happened to be available last-minute. “It’s just a case of who can cover, who can’t cover,” she said.

“That’s not true,” Ms McKenna said.

“People were literally taking antigen tests in work and having to leave immediately,” Pat Hand, Paddy Power’s chief financial officer for retail in the UK and Ireland said in evidence.

“Your honour, there was no-one sick in my shop,” Ms McKenna said.

Second complaint

The commission also heard a complaint on the same grounds from Tammy Lynch, an assistant manager at the Paddy Power store in Raheny, Dublin 5, who has some 20 years’ service with the bookmaker.

She said staff were “all overtime was gone… but they were still letting other people work over their hours,” Ms Lynch said. Colleagues on contracts for 16, 24 or 32 hours “were getting brought up to 40 hours” from June 2020 onward.

“I have rosters that show that people worked over their contractual hours,” she told the hearing.

Ms Byrne said she would not rule on the cases until she had heard another similar complaint in May – and would probably issue her decision in June.