THE moratorium on hiring in the public sector cannot be used to undermine an employee's right to a permanent contract, a tribunal heard yesterday.
Barrister and mediator Brid O'Flaherty claims her client, psychology and special education lecturer Maeve Dupont, was unfairly denied a permanent contract with St Patrick's College in Dublin despite having worked at the college for four years on a fixed-term contract which ended in August 2009.
Ms Dupont is suing the college, an education and humanities affiliate of Dublin City University, for unfair dismissal.
She claims that she was unfairly selected for redundancy.
Although Ms Dupont continues to work at the college on a three-year, fixed-term contract, she is seeking reinstatement on a permanent contract.
At an Employment Appeals Tribunal (EAT) hearing in Dublin yesterday, Ms Dupont, through her barrister, argued that her right to a permanent contract of indefinite duration (CID) was denied to her.
A Rights Commissioner from the Labour Court upheld her claim to a CID in a decision in October 2009.
Despite this, Ms Dupont was made redundant in February 2010, the tribunal heard.
Although she was re-employed by the college to temporarily cover a woman on maternity leave -- followed by another three-year temporary contract in August 2010 -- Ms Dupont argued that she was denied her right to a permanent job.
"This case isn't about money," Ms O'Flaherty said. "This is about the duty of an employer to (labour) legislation,"she said.
Kerry Molyneaux, a human resources officer for IBEC who appeared on behalf of the college, told the tribunal that the college was unable to give Ms Dupont a permanent contract because of the State's moratorium on recruitment and promotions within the public sector.
The moratorium, effective from March 2009, includes an employment control framework for third-level institutions in which only essential academic and support posts can be filled.
The college, however, is willing to offer Ms Dupont compensation amounting to four weeks' salary, she added.
"A policy decision by the department doesn't take way from the employers' duty (towards employees)," tribunal member Jim Dorney said.
Both parties have until February 14 to complete their written submissions to the tribunal before a decision is made.