A worker got €20,000 in compensation after becoming depressed on late shifts

The man was eventually dismissed after his request for day work was knocked back.

By Fora Staff

A MAN HAS been awarded €20,000 in compensation for being fired after he complained that working evenings was making him depressed and asked to be changed to day shifts.

The case before the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) heard that the complainant worked for an unnamed international pharmaceutical company as a mechanical assembler from 4 July 2016 until 15 June 2017.

The first three months of his employment were carried out on day shifts but he started evening shifts in October 2016.

He told the commission that he began to experience physical and mental changes on the shift and became depressed. The shifts were from 7am to 3.30pm or 3.15pm to 1.45am.

He had hoped to be moved to day shifts when new people were hired, but he was not offered a swap. He said his line manager told him that there could be no change to his evening work.

He submitted a medical report from his GP, which detailed symptoms of low mood, poor sleep and mental distress.

The GP report recommended a change to day shifts for his client, saying those hours were “likely to be more suitable for him”.

This was followed by an occupational consultation and report which recorded that the complainant was “intolerant of this type of shift work”.

The company said that an HR manager met with the complainant and told him there were no day shift positions available in any section of the plant and that position was unlikely to change.

It also said that, prior to his employment, the complainant did a medical assessment to validate his fitness to work. The man was later dismissed.


WRC adjudication officer Patsy Doyle said that both parties accepted that the complainant developed a depressive illness during his employment and that they accepted this constituted a disability.

He also said that a repeat request by the complainant to move to day shifts was “a cry for help”.

In his findings, Doyle said he “was disappointed that in light of the lack of progress in terms of accessing day work, this did not trigger a follow-up referral to occupational health for advice and direction”.

“The complainant had no stated difficulty with the essential tasks of the job, he did have a stated difficulty with evening shift.

“The contract of employment outlined that the complainant must be available to work on a shift pattern. It did not specifically delineate an evening shift exclusively.

“I cannot therefore, in the presence of a two-shift system, accept that evening work was an essential work pattern incapable of even a trial re-adjustment for the complainant.”

Doyle found the company to be “intolerant towards the complainant”, adding that the move to dismissal “was extremely rushed”.

“I could not understand how the respondent could reasonably interpret that the complainant’s health would benefit from unemployment.”

Doyle said the complainant was discriminated against and the claim for discriminatory dismissal was “well founded”. The man received €20,000 in compensation for the effects of the discrimination.

Written by Cliodhna Russell and posted on TheJournal.ie