Mushroom picker ‘lays in the dark’ while employer falsifies working time records bonus 15,000 euros for breaking minimum wage laws

The owner of a mushroom farm had to pay a worker €15,000 for not paying her minimum wage for 80 hours a week – while concealing fake details of her hours when she signed the contract. agree with them.

The judge investigating her complaint considered it “the most serious violation of her labor rights”.

Ana Lacramioara Manciu filed a complaint under the National Minimum Wage Act against Co Tipperary’s mushroom growing company Stablefield Limited, alleging that she earns only €2,093 a month working 85 hours a week.

The company is owned by Thomas and Eleanor Sweeney of Killeatin, Clogheen, Co Tipperary.

The commission said Ms Manciu earned between €4.06 and €6.17 an hour working for the company between 2012 and 2016.

As proof, she said that she came to Ireland in 2012 from Romania to work and found work as a farm scavenger.

She said she was surprised to be kept working late until 10pm – but other employees told her it didn’t matter how long she worked, the focus was on the weight of the mushrooms being picked – with staff get paid 30-33 cents per kg.

She was promoted several times and eventually rose to the position of harvest supervisor, she said, with her salary increasing from a total of €1,600 to €2,093.

That means starting as early as 6 a.m. to meet select people on-site, with the workday not ending until as late as 9:30 p.m., she said, often with just one day off during the day. week or no day at all.

She said part of her job was to call employees into the office, where they were asked to sign pay slips and the second page seemed blank at first – but then she discovered there were details on the hours. work every week.

Her proof is that “respondents will keep their hands on the page on their desk, so employees cannot view or review working hours.”

She said she had looked at her husband’s documents, which indicated that where he had picked 1,000kg of mushrooms, the amount would be divided by 30 cents – showing a false hourly wage of €9.

“Regular, if not daily, hours of work are changed by [Thomas] Sweeney,” Ms. Manciu said, adding that she could see him make changes in real time as he logged into her computer with remote access software.

Ms. Manciu submitted screenshots of the clock system on a number of days, including February 5, 2015, when she started at 6:05 a.m. and ended at 9:06 p.m. – a full day’s work. 15 hours 12 minutes, with 70 minutes deducted for breaks.

She said she was asked to sign a pay breakdown for that month, as usual, without even seeing what it said.

She later discovered it turned out that she had worked just 6.58 hours on February 5, 2015, she told the committee.

She gave three similar examples where the system in the chronograph outperformed what the other indicated in 2015 and 2016.

The company did not provide evidence in defense and only filed a legal objection to the case being heard.

In October 2019, Ms Manciu was awarded €21,000 after the Labor Court overturned an earlier decision by the Workplace Relations Commission on the requirements for paying vacation and annual leave under the Act. Organize Working Time.

Stablefield argued from the outset that the National Minimum Wage Act complaint should be dismissed because it was handled by inspection, which was found against the company and resulted in a “compliance notice.” prosecution, fixed penalty notice and a criminal hearing”.

Rachel O’Flynn BL, representing the company, said the inspector had investigated all aspects of the incident, including underpaying, in an “extensive report”.

“Whether true or not,” she said, the Commission made its decision on the case in 2017.

She argued that Ms. Manciu had appealed five of her original complaints, but not this one.

Sharon Dillion-Lyons BL, appearing for Ms. Manciu, argued that there was no evidence for investigation or prosecution related to underpaying.

She said her client had initially sought to arbitrate her wage claim and that the only examination request involved her failure to receive notice of her hourly rate – matters resolved. handled in different sections of the National Minimum Wage Act.

Ms Dillon-Lyons said that although the previous adjudicator in the case mentioned a claim under Section 24 of the National Minimum Wage Act, that claim was not true before the committee because there was no such statement. about Ms. Manciu’s hourly rate.

She argued that her client requested an hourly rate report in her original complaint in 2016 but this was not returned within the four weeks of being requested.

Magistrate officer Úna Glazier-Farmer accepted that she had jurisdiction over the case.

She said Ms Manciu was “deliberately hidden about how much she earns per hour or even her minimum wage [a] required work 80 hours per week”.

The complainant provided her evidence with “exceptional clarity and detail” and she said it was accepted in its entirety.

“The falsification of working hours with the intent to deceive claimants and pay wages significantly below the national minimum wage is the most serious violation of employment rights,” said Ms. Glazier-Farmer. do hers. “The respondent sought to take advantage of the complainant, who she herself admitted was unfamiliar with her employment rights upon arriving in this country.” Mushroom picker ‘lays in the dark’ while employer falsifies working time records bonus 15,000 euros for breaking minimum wage laws

Fry Electronics Team

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