Ryanair has lost a pay dispute with a cabin crew supervisor over a sum of less than €300 deducted from his salary nearly three years ago.
Mark Peter Balasz's complaint against Ryanair under the Payment of Wages Act was upheld in a decision published this morning by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC).
Mr Balasz told the WRC at a hearing in May last year that in October 2019, he realised the airline had failed to pay his salary in August and September that year.
His phone calls and emails failed to resolve the matter, he said, adding that he was told he would receive a sum of €650 in the middle of October.
He borrowed money from friends and attended work as scheduled, but no payment arrived as promised, he said.
With some €2,232.82 still outstanding, Mr Balasz said he wrote to the company to say he would be “unable to go to work until he is paid” on 17 October 2019, the WRC was told.
He told the tribunal that he lived 62km from the airport where he was based and “did not have money for petrol”.
He said the company classified this as “unauthorised” leave and docked him his bonus of €150 and €147.24 in pay.
Mr Balasz said he was told there had been an “admin error” and that the company would be unable to rectify the issue until the end-of-month payroll for October that year.
The world's fifth-largest airline, which booked profits of slightly over €1bn during the financial year in question, mounted a full defence of the claim at a hearing in May 2021.
Roland Rowan BL, who appeared for the respondent on the instructions of Killian O'Reilly, of Fieldfisher solicitors, submitted that Mr Balasz was left off the payroll in error on his return from paternity leave in the summer of 2019.
Mr Rowan said Ryanair only heard of the problem after the payroll deadline had passed and could not rectify it until the end of that month.
He said Ryanair offered an advance of €650 but was told by Mr Balasz that the sum “was not enough to get him through”.
The advance offered was then cancelled, Mr Rowan said.
Counsel said that Mr Balasz then lodged a statutory pay claim on 24 October 2019 when he “knew he would be paid the next day”.
Mr Rowan submitted that there was no breach of the Payment of Wages Act, arguing there was “no failure to pay” and the problem was “fixed as quickly as possible” – branding Mr Balasz's complaint “vexatious”.
A Ryanair HR officer who gave evidence said there was a “significant impact” on the airline in circumstances where the ranking flight attendant was a “no-show” as they were harder to replace and caused delay.
The HR officer said the company regarded Mr Balasz's absence as a refusal to work “as a protest”.
Adjudicating officer Davnet O'Driscoll upheld Mr Balazs's claim but found that the late payment of his salary was an “oversight” by Ryanair – calling it a “technical breach”.
However, she accepted that Mr Balasz was at a financial loss and suffered financial pressure – and directed Ryanair to repay him for the bonus and pay deductions.
She made an order for €297.24 against the airline.