by Gordon Deegan
A manager of a Co Kildare charity shop was sacked by the charity after not reaching the store’s weekly sales target of €1,175.
However, the woman sued for unfair dismissal and the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) has found that the woman was unfairly dismissed and the un-named charity has now been ordered to pay her €4,940 in compensation.
The employer in the case is a subsidiary of a registered charity and operates 100 shops around the country in order to raise funds for the charity's services.
The employee in the case commenced employment as a shop manager at one of the charity’s Co Kildare shops on August 31 2015.
The woman went on maternity leave and returned as a shop manager at a second branch of the charity's shops in Co Kildare in November 28 2016.
However, the woman was sacked in April 2017 for failing to reach the weekly sales target for the shop.
The charity told the WRC hearing that the woman was given a sales target of €1,175 for her first six months at the second shop and a target of €1,325 for the second half of the year.
However, the charity said that the manager “fell considerably short of these targets” with sales to the end of March 2017 at €712 per week.
In her evidence at the WRC hearing, the woman said that when she went to work in the second shop, she said that she knew that compared to the first shop, it would be difficult to meet the sales targets.
She said that this was because the population was different, the quality of donations wasn’t as good, the shop wasn’t in a great location and there were no experienced staff.
She also pointed out that she started in the shop on December 21 2016 and the winter period is the slowest for trading.
At the review meeting on March 24 2017, the area manager said that the shop was dark and that weekly targets of €1,175 were not being met.
Two weeks later, on April 7, the area manager told the complainant that her employment was being terminated because she was not meeting the sales targets.
The woman said that she asked who decided that she was being dismissed and she was informed that it was the CEO.
The woman said that she was crying.
The woman’s representative told the hearing that her client was not told at the March 24 meeting that she would be dismissed if sales didn’t improve.
It was pointed out to the WRC hearing that even if she had been informed that her job was under threat, two weeks is not sufficient to make the changes that required to achieve the increased targets.
The employer argued that the woman was still on probation at the time of being sacked but this was rejected by WRC Adjudication Officer, Catherine Byrne.
In her findings, Ms Byrne said that said that in the circumstances where sales targets weren’t being made, the employer had a duty to manage the complainant’s performance by setting out what was required, providing support to achieve the sales targets and deciding on a reasonable timeframe in which to achieve them.
She said: "None of this was done, and the complainant was dismissed two weeks after a review meeting at which she clearly explained what was needed to increase sales.
"In the absence of any procedures, the only conclusion I can arrive at is that this was an unfair dismissal."