An ex-Ryanair cabin crew member has won her row with the airline over a disputed €16,000 redundancy payment.
This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Breiffni O'Neill ordering Ryanair pay Jovita Jocinaite her statutory redundancy lump sum payment estimated at €16,008.
Ryanair argued that Ms Jocinaite was not entitled to any lump sum redundancy payment after she took up a new job with Ryanair subsidiary Buzz in July 2020.
In May 2020, Ryanair told Ms Jocinaite that due to Covid-19, it was shutting its base at Kaunas, Lithuania where she worked with effect from June 30th, 2020.
A cabin services agent with Ryanair since September 2007, Ms Jocinaite stated in order to avoid redundancy, Ryanair offered her alternative employment at Ryanair’s Stansted London base - over 1,000 miles away from her Lithuanian home.
In her evidence at the WRC, Ms Jocinaite stated that given that she was pregnant at the time and had another two-year-old child at home, she asked Ryanair to reconsider its position.
Ms Jocinaite explained that the Stansted offer was not acceptable because she could no longer live in the city where she had settled and would have to move to a country that was a considerable distance away, while pregnant with a small child.
She stated that as a result of Ryanair’s refusal to reconsider she stated that she had no choice but to sign a new contract with Ryanair subsidiary, Buzz and be based out of Kaunas because she had to support her child and ensure that she would get her maternity benefit later on when she had her baby.
In his findings, Mr O’Neill found that it was “unreasonable” of Ryanair to require that Ms Jocinaite move to London.
Mr O’Neill stated that it was never suggested by Ryanair at any stage that Ms Jocinaite’s decision to join Buzz should disallow her of a redundancy payment for any reason.
Mr O'Neill found that this was not a suitable alternative offer of employment even though he recognised that it was one Ms Jocinaite ultimately accepted.
The case was heard over two days at a remote WRC hearing where Ms Jocinaite represented herself and Ryanair was represented by a barrister and solicitor.
At hearing, Ryanair argued that instead of making Ms Jocinaite’s position redundant, Ryanair was in a position to offer her continued employment in the London Stansted base.
Ryanair stated that it advised Ms Jocinaite that the transfer would be effective July 1st, 2020 in accordance with the mobility clause in the contract of employment.
Ryanair stated that after being informed by Ms Jocinaite on July 6th that she had signed a contract with Buzz, Ryanair pointed out that she therefore chose to end her employment and start with a new third party despite it being open to her to remain in their employment based in Stansted.
A spokesman for Ryanair would only say on Tuesday “Ryanair is appealing this decision". The appeal will be heard at the Labour Court at a later date.