James Reilly's former driver fails in unfair dismissal claim

Man dismissed last November over compliance with travel and annual leave rules

A  driver for former Minister for Health James Reilly for six years has failed in his unfair dismissal action against a Government department. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

A driver for former Minister for Health James Reilly for six years has failed in his unfair dismissal action against a Government department. Photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

A Government ministerial driver who served in his post for six years has failed in his unfair dismissal action against a Government department.

The man - who worked as a driver for former Minister for Health James Reilly for five years - was dismissed from his post in November of last year. It wasclaimed he failed to comply with rules on travel and subsistence by providing sufficient information to support his claims and failed to adhere to regulations on the taking of annual leave.

In response, the civilian driver raised a complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) that he had been unfairly dismissed without fair procedures and natural justice.

However, WRC adjudication officer Rosaleen Glackin found she has no jurisdiction to hear the unfair dismissal claim as the former driver accepted at the Commission hearing that no unfair dismissal claim had been lodged with it.

The driver also claimed he suffered less favourable treatment than a fixed term employee and made a separate contract claim.

Those claims were also dismissed by Ms Glackin as not being well founded, out of time or beyond her jurisdiction.

In the case, the driver first served Dr Reilly between 2011 and July 2014 - ministers can appoint two drivers to the role.

The civilian driver moved with Minister Reilly to his new post of Minister for Children and Youth Affairs in 2014.

Following Dr Reilly losing his Dáil seat and later his ministry in July 2016, the driver was issued with a third fixed-term contract effective from May 6th 2016 working as a civilian driver to another named minister in a different department.

The driver continued to work with this minister when she moved to another Government department and was issued with a fourth contract effective from June 14th 2017 that would include a probationary six month period.

However, in November 2017, he was informed of the Government department’s decision to terminate his contract on November 17th 2017.

The WRC report gives the two reasons for the termination as an alleged failure to comply with rules on travel and subsistence by providing sufficient information to support his claims and secondly that he would not be bound by the terms of his contract of employment in relation to annual leave.

On behalf of the driver, Impact trade union stated he would adhere to all regulations and procedures for claiming travel and subsistence and he would also adhere to any regulations and procedures for the taking of annual leave going forward.

However, the personnel officer responded to inform the driver that the issues had been referred for an internal appeal to an unnamed officer and that the decision to terminate the employment was confirmed.

In response to the driver’s claims at the WRC, the Government department stated that the position of a civilian driver to a minister is a unique position in respect of which there is no comparable employee in the Civil Service.

The Department said there were strong objective grounds to justify the failure to grant a contract of indefinite duration.