Fás 'golden handshake'
Madam, – The decision to offer Rody Molloy a €1 million payout has been defended by the Tánaiste on the grounds that it would be more cost effective to conclude a negotiated deal rather than fight a legal battle against unfair dismissal (Home News, September 24th).
This is disingenuous spin from the Minister, designed to trick the public into believing that the only alternative to offering Mr Molloy a “golden handshake” was to enter into a lengthy and costly tribunal of inquiry.
People are dismissed from their jobs all the time. Any appeals on their dismissal are handled very effectively by bodies such as the Rights Commissioners and the Employment Appeals Tribunal. These bodies are not courts and, therefore, Fás would not have required solicitors or barristers for representation. They could have used their own in-house HR professionals or, since they were (bizarrely) members of Ibec, their Ibec representative. This is how the vast majority of companies deal with unfair dismissal claims.
Since the employment costs for the HR manager and cost of Ibec membership are already paid or accounted for there would have been no significant increase in cost to the taxpayer.
In addition, it should be noted that the maximum award for an unfair dismissal is two years’ salary. Furthermore, large awards are reserved only for employees who have been grossly mistreated by the most heinous of employers. So, even if Mr Molloy could establish that he was dismissed unfairly and that the board for Fás was akin to a modern-day William Martin Murphy, he would have received around €440,000.
Obviously, the above figure pre-supposes: 1. That Mr Molloy’s theoretical dismissal was unfair. 2.That he would have the neck to fight it. 3.That the Rights Commissioner/tribunal was feeling deeply generous. All that said, an award for €440,000 would still be a better deal for the taxpayer. What is most disappointing is that matters of employment and the bodies that adjudicate on them are in fact, the responsibility of the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment. Consequently, Ms Coughlan’s defence of the “golden handshake” decision is nothing short of a complete and utter disgrace. – Yours, etc,