Irish court orders Law Society to give secretary her job back

The Law Society of Ireland has been told by Eire's Labour Court – the Irish equivalent of the UK's Advisory Conciliatory and Arbitration Service – to reinstate a secretary whose sacking sparked off a three-week strike and picketing of the Law Society's Dublin headquarters.

The strike among the society's 40 administrative and clerical workers had been prompted by the Law Society's decision to sack a secretary who had refused to work outside normal office hours.

However, both sides are claiming victory following the Labour Court's intervention, which was not binding on the Law Society. The society has reinstated the secretary, but she has apologised for refusing to undertake the work.

In a bid to end a long running dispute between the society and staff over flexible working practices, the court has also issued a definition of the flexible working practices it believes the society can legitimately demand of its staff.

It has also called on the society to adopt a more sensitive approach in the operation of flexible working arrangements.

Maurice Sheehan, national officer for Mandate, the union representing the 40 administrative and clerical workers who staged the walk out, said: “We are extremely pleased at the recommendations, it has vindicated the members' action.”

Ken Murphy, the director of the Irish Law Society, said that the society had always been sensitive to flexible working and added that the court's definition used the exact wording put forward by the society's management.