A former Tesco employee, who took a €25,000 voluntary redundancy package unaware he had an option of continuing to work night shifts in the store, has been awarded €25,000 damages on top of his original €25,000 redundancy pay-out.
Judge John O’ Connor heard in the Circuit Civil Court Tuesday that Tomasz Gil of Millrace Road, Co Carlow, had been a night shift worker in the Tesco store in Carlow when, towards the end of 2014, he and more than 30 colleagues had been told of a review of night shift work in all Tesco store.
Barrister Mark O’Connell, counsel for Gil, told the court his client had been presented with four options in relation to the fact that night shift work was going to cease in the store - he could start to work day shifts, take voluntary redundancy, do a four week trial in a different department or take a career break.
Mr O’ Connell, who appeared with Rostra Solicitors, said Mr Gil had never been made aware by Tesco that a partial number of workers in Tesco were going to remain on the night shift.
He said Tesco was appealing a decision of the Employment Appeals Tribunal where Mr Gil had succeeded in January 2016 in a claim relating to the termination of his well-paid employment.
Gil told Judge O’Connor that had he known there was a chance he could continue working night shifts in Tesco he would never have opted for the voluntary redundancy package. He said the idea of steady employment had been much more appealing to him than a once-off redundancy payment of €25,000.
He said his wife and daughter had been living in Poland and he had been sending them money to support them. It had taken him a year to find to find new job in a bakery where he had made less money than in Tesco.
John Nolan, the store manager in Tesco Carlow, said Mr Gil had been aware of all his options and had only been interested in taking the voluntary redundancy package.
Mr O’ Connell told the court that Mr Gil had been approached by Mr Nolan at the end of a long shift on 2nd January 2015 in relation to voluntary redundancy. There had been no trade union representative, no translator to help Mr Gil understand the situation more clearly and no legal representative to give him advice.
Counsel said there had not been a single document on behalf of Tesco to back up their evidence that Mr Gil had been aware of all his options. He said there had been no records of meetings, no minutes, no letters and no explanatory leaflets.
Mr O’ Connell said his client had only become aware of the fact 15 out of 32 night workers were remaining on duty after he had signed off and accepted his voluntary redundancy cheque.
Judge O’ Connor said he was satisfied Mr Gil had been given four options in relation to his working preferences but had never been informed that remaining on as a night worker had been a fifth option.
The Judge said that since Mr Gil had never returned his redundancy cheque he did not deserve money claimed for exemplary damages.
Judge O’Connor said Mr Gil could retain his redundancy payment and awarded him €25,000 damages.