favours foreign workers
who employ foreign workers face the prospect of substantial
compensation claims after one employer was ordered by the
Equality Tribunal to pay ?290,000 to 58 staff because it did
not translate work contracts.
Concrete said it will challenge the tribunal’s ruling in
favour of its staff, which was published yesterday.
of the workers was granted ?5,000 on the grounds their
contracts and safety documents were not produced in their own
language or translated by an independent party.
award came to ?290,000 with a further ?37,000 for three
employees the tribunal said had suffered from stress and
Orla Goode, the company’s
human resources officer, said it would challenge the ruling in
the Labour Court. She claimed, if allowed stand, the decision
would allow any worker whose contract is not in their home
language to make a legitimate discrimination claim.
the basis that there are 330,000 foreign nationals working in
Ireland whose contracts are more than likely printed in
English, this could cost employers ?1.6 billion.
“And it is not just the cost of any claims, but also
the future cost of translators. Russian would be the main
language in our company, but we have staff who are able to
translate without bringing in somebody specially at a cost,”
Last night, a spokesman for the Irish
Business and Employers Confederation (IBEC) said it was aware
of the case. “We are studying the matter, but we are not
making any further comment at this stage,” it said.
its ruling, the tribunal said the firm breached equality
legislation by not providing the 58 staff members with
documents they could understand.
“Their terms and
conditions of employment and safety documentation were not set
out in a language which was understandable to each of them or
where there is no evidence that these terms and conditions of
employment were explained to each of them by a person speaking
a language they understood who was appointed by Goode Concrete
Limited for this specific purpose,” it said.
the tribunal rejected 32 claims of harassment and 8 claims of
unfair dismissal by the workers after the case was made on
their behalf by PC Moore solicitors. The workers had argued
they faced summary dismissal if they appeared drunk in work.
In the case of two men, Vladimirs Petrovs and Arvydas
Valusis, the tribunal said they had been fired on the basis of
their nationality and they were awarded ?10,000 and ?25,000
Goode Concrete was also told to pay
Aleksanders Petrovs ?2,000 for not telling him the
implications of extending his Christmas holidays.
National Employment Rights Authority said it does not comment
on individual cases. However, it said the legislation relating
to terms of employment requires bosses to provide written work
conditions, but this act makes no specific reference to the
language of such documents.