Restaurant owner told to pay up after unlawfully deducting wages from employee

Unlawful deductions relate to a €2,000 painting allegedly mistakenly sold by the manager for €200
Restaurant owner told to pay up after unlawfully deducting wages from employee

Gordon Deegan

A restaurant and art gallery owner has been ordered to pay up after he unlawfully deducted wages from a restaurant manager for mistakenly selling a €2,000 painting for €200.

This follows Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) Adjudicator, Maria Kelly ordering the restaurant owner to pay the restaurant's former manager €885.60 for the unlawful deduction in pay.

The owner told the WRC that he didn’t pay the restaurant manager’s wages because he held her responsible for a mistake in selling a painting at the incorrect price of €200 rather than €2,000.

Art gallery

The owner claimed the complainant had been given the prices of items in the art gallery and she had marked the incorrect price on the painting.

In an email on December 19th 2019, the owner suggested that the restaurant manager either pay the money or it would be deducted from her last pay and holiday pay.

He stated that the manager was required to take responsibility for the mistake concerning the painting in his art gallery

In response, the restaurant manager denied she was responsible for any mistake in the sale of the painting.

Job description

She told the WRC that she was the restaurant manager and her job description did not include work in the owner’s art gallery.

She acknowledged she took payment at the cash desk for the painting, which was located in the restaurant, for items from the gallery.

She further denied she made any mistake as she stated she had charged the customer the price marked on the painting.

The woman said that she was seeking €886 in unpaid wages and €150 in tips.

The manager commenced work as a restaurant manager from August 22nd and finished on December 19th 2019 after giving notice of her resignation on November 29th 2019.

In her findings, Ms Kelly stated that it was clear from the evidence that the gallery and restaurant owner believed the complainant had made a mistake and that she should pay for that mistake.

Entitled to make deduction

Ms Kelly stated that the disagreement about the pricing of the painting is not the issue but whether the restaurant owner was entitled to make a deduction from the manager's wages.

Ms Kelly found that in the woman’s employment contract, there is no provision providing for deductions from wages for an act or omission.

Ms Kelly further concluded that the worker was not furnished with a statement in writing giving the particulars of the act or omission and the amount of the proposed deduction.

She stated: “As the respondent made the deduction from the complainant’s wages without fulfilling the above conditions I find that the deduction was unlawful. The complaint is well founded."

Ms Kelly stated that the restaurant manager is entitled to be paid for seven working days and two holidays.

She stated: “The complainant is not entitled to any payment in respect of tips.”

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