I move amendment No. 1:
In page 4, between lines 18 and 19, to insert the following:
"(a) the substitution of ‘nine month's' for ‘one year's' in paragraph (a) of subsection (1).".
This legislation has worked well to protect people who might have been dismissed or sacked over a period of time. One issue which arises time and again is the one year period before people are entitled to avail of the legislation. Prior to the Principal Act, this legislation, or amended legislation, an individual who was sacked from employment and had not been treated equitably within the boundaries of common law and natural justice would have tried to take a case under common law and under the principles of natural justice.
It has been the experience of the trade union movement that this legislation has been used by a minority of unscrupulous people who have avoided the one year term of qualification. A person must be employed for one year before they can avail of this legislation if they are sacked. There are a number of reasons why there should be a specific period. An individual may be appointed to a position and, despite the best methods of filtration, the most comprehensive system of interviewing and the most supportive methods of probation he may be unable to do the job. An employer must have the right to deal with that situation.
There is nothing sacrosanct about a year. It is easy to avoid this legislation — yearly contracts are being used for this purpose. An individual in employment for more than six months will have established himself or herself sufficiently for the employer and fellow workers to know if he or she is able to do the job. The one year period should be reduced to nine months. An individual in employment for nine months should have access to this legislation if dismissed and should be enabled to appeal.
A person in employment for less than one year may challenge dismissal, but may not do so under the unfair dismissals legislation. People may challenge dismissal by seeking a judicial review or legal redress under common law or the principles of natural justice. It would be easier for everybody, including the employer and employee, if this matter could be addressed. I would like to see the period of one year reduced to nine months.