A restaurant that was run with a “chronic, institutional failure” to respect shift breaks before the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic has been ordered to pay five former employees over €62,000 for multiple breaches of labor law.
The awards were made by the Workplace Relations Commission following more than 33 individual findings against Ascot Catering Ltd, the operator of Ciao Bella Roma on Parliament Street in Temple Bar, Dublin 2.
The court found that there had been “extremely serious” violations of the Working Time Organization Act when the restaurant was still in operation before March 2020, when it closed without paying workers the last two weeks of wages or a notice payment.
Chefs Daniele Vito Antonetti and Ioan Cosmin Maties, as well as kitchen assistant Darius Radu Peicu, barman Antonio Fillipo Santoiemma and accountant Sandra Maties each complained of unfair dismissals and unlawful deductions from wages, with the four men also alleging working time violations.
At a joint hearing of the cases on September 20 last year, neither the employer nor a sixth employee who had lodged complaints appeared.
Labor counsel Marius Marosan, appearing for the workers, submitted that the restaurant was closed on March 18, 2020, when the Covid-19 pandemic broke out, and the employees he represented were not paid and not given notice for the previous two weeks had received about the closure. and no notice period.
In testimony, Mr Maties said the restaurant reopened in August 2020 without bringing him or any of his colleagues back to work. The complainant said that when he asked the owner if he would be rehired, he was “forced to leave the restaurant.”
The owner “promised” workers would pay his debts but “never did so”, Mr Maties said.
Each of the workers alleged in their complaints that they were not paid for the last two weeks of their employment and that they were summarily dismissed.
Sentencing officer Pat Brady wrote: “[Mr Maties] According to him, to put it mildly, they were asked to leave the company without having any satisfactory indication of what would become of the commitments made to honor outstanding payments, not to mention their status as employees and the prospects of returning to the workplace.”
Mr Maties told the court that he “hardly took any breaks” during his job and ate whenever he had the chance – sometimes he “hardly” found time to go to the toilet.
“[The staff] “They worked in an environment where their legal rights to breaks, paid holidays and holidays were not respected, and they were all denied wages for the final two weeks of their employment,” Mr. Brady wrote.
“The violations of the Working Time Organization Act were extremely serious and there was a chronic, institutional non-compliance with the right to breaks.” As a measure of the seriousness of the violation of the law, I award the complainant compensation of €5,000,” wrote Mr Brady in his decision on Mr. Antonetti’s case.
He awarded the same total amount to Mr Maties and Mr Peicu as compensation for breaches of the right to weekly rest periods and the right to daily shift breaks.
Mr Santoiemma was awarded €2,500 for violating his right to daily shift breaks only by not making a complaint regarding weekly breaks.
Mr Antonetti also secured €1,347 for the employer’s failure to provide a written contract, although a complaint from his kitchen colleague, Mr Maties, was ruled “unfounded” on the same basis as the employee had stated in evidence that he had provided a written one contract received conditions.
The court found that all five workers had been unfairly dismissed and awarded them amounts ranging from €720 in the case of Ms Maties to €7,500 in the case of Mr Peicu, for a total of €15,403.
Mr Brady also made orders against Ascot Catering demanding payment of €4,772 in back wages; 9,706 euros in termination pay and 31,371.80 euros for various violations of the Working Time Organization Act.
Mr Antonetti secured €17,456. Fellow chef Mr. Maties received €16,786; Kitchen assistant Mr Peicu got €16,847 and Mr Santoiemma, the barman, secured €10,071.
The restaurant’s part-time accountant, Sandra Maties, did not pursue working time complaints but secured compensation of €1,440 for her losses due to unfair dismissal and non-payment of wages and notice pay.
The total orders against Ascot Catering Ltd in this case amounted to €62,600.