• Thursday, July 18, 2024

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Chauffeur wins compensation as Indian embassy’s immunity claim fails

The commission ordered in Adrian Taranu’s favour after the embassy’s attempt to assert diplomatic immunity failed.

Representational image (iStock)

By: Pramod Thomas

A chauffeur employed by the Indian Embassy in Dublin has been awarded more than £1,000 in compensation following allegations of unfair working conditions and denial of statutory leave.

The Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) awarded compensation for Adrian Taranu for multiple violations of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997 after the embassy skipped a hearing and claimed the tribunal lacked jurisdiction, reported The Irish Times.

Taranu presented his case to the WRC, detailing numerous breaches of the Organisation of Working Time Act 1997. He claimed he regularly worked beyond his contracted hours and was often denied the mandatory 11-hour rest period between shifts.

Specific instances in October and November 2022 illustrated these violations, including a 17 October shift where he worked until 11pm and resumed at 8.30pm the next day, leading to seven consecutive days without a day off.

Further accusations included being deprived of his full statutory annual leave and public holidays, as the embassy adhered to the Indian holiday calendar instead of the Irish one.

The Indian embassy did not attend the WRC hearing, maintaining that diplomatic immunity under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations shielded them from such claims. In their correspondence, they denied Taranu’s allegations, citing a lack of specific evidence and expressing surprise at the tribunal’s proceedings.

Representing Taranu, barrister Eoin O’Connor, instructed by Richard Bowman of Bowman McCabe Solicitors, argued that the Vienna Convention grants immunity only to diplomatic agents, which did not apply to Taranu.

As a locally-employed chauffeur performing administrative tasks, his employment was subject to Irish taxation and statutory deductions, thus excluding him from the protections claimed by the embassy.

Adjudicating officer Jim Dolan, referencing a 2012 European Court of Human Rights judgment on sovereign immunity in employment disputes, ruled that Taranu’s duties did not constitute the exercise of public powers, thereby negating the embassy’s claim of state immunity.

Dolan upheld Taranu’s complaints regarding inadequate rest breaks and awarded a compliance direction to ensure future adherence to statutory daily breaks. Additionally, a compensation of £212 was granted for the lack of a weekly rest period during the seven-day stretch starting 17 October 2022.

In total, Taranu was awarded more than £1,000 in compensation for the breaches of working time regulations, the report added.

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