A Pakistani-born domestic worker has been awarded €66,794 after she alleged at a tribunal that if she complained, the couple she was working for threatened that the police would come and get her.
The Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) ordered two Irish-based Pakistani doctors, Mr and Mrs Tahir Nazir to pay the money to Sultana Anwar arising from her unfair dismissal action.
Ms Anwar said she arrived to work in Ireland as a domestic worker for the Nazirs in March 2009 and she expected to get a three-and-a -half-year visa and to be paid €100 per week.
She worked for the Nazirs until August 10, 2011. She told the tribunal she started work at 7am each day and sometimes did not finish until 11 or 12 in the evening.
Ms Anwar said the only time off she got was when she was eating. She further alleged that she worked seven days a week and never got a day off. She also alleged that she had no permission to leave the house and also had no access to a phone.
Ms Anwar was looking after three children and was also doing the cooking, cleaning and ironing.
It was alleged at the tribunal that on two occasions when she was sick, the Nazirs gave her medicine but no rest.
Ms Anwar said she was paid €150 on the 17th day of each month and she sent it to her family.
Ms Anwar’s version of events was flatly contradicted by the Nazirs who claimed that she did not work at all during her time with them.
Dr Nazir said that Ms Anwar is his second cousin “and never worked for them”.
He said Ms Anwar asked him over the phone if she could visit, he said “OK” and signed the papers so she could get a visa to visit.
He said they already had a childminder and did their own cooking and washing and that Ms Anwar was a visitor but she had her own mobile phone and had access to their phone.
Dr Nazir said that, after a few months, Ms Anwar went out to local shops looking for work.
Dr Nazir heard this from the man in the grocery shop and Dr Nazir explained to Ms Anwar that she could not work on a visitor’s visa.
In his evidence, Dr Nazir said Ms Anwar’s brothers phoned to say they were arranging a marriage for her and she left without telling him. Dr Nazir said that when he phoned her brother he was told that she was with her in-laws.
He said that after six or seven weeks Ms Anwar came back. By that time Dr Nazir was working reduced hours and he took the children to school and he and his wife cared for them.
In its determination, the three-member EAT said that there was a major conflict of evidence in the case. It said that while accepting that there are difficulties with both versions of events, the tribunal preferred the evidence of Ms Anwar and found that she had been the Nazirs’ domestic worker and that she was in effect constructively dismissed.
The tribunal accepted Ms Anwar worked a very large number of hours per week. The tribunal awarded her €64,771 for her constructive dismissal under the Unfair Dismissals Act, €1,349 under the Terms of Employment (Information) Acts, and €674 under the Payment of Wages Act.
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