BALLYDOYLE Racing Stables has lost its appeal against compliance orders served on it by the Workplace Relations Commission.
The official Labour Court determination is not due to be published until Wednesday but details were leaked to media on Friday and sources close to the parties involved have confirmed to The Irish Field that the verdict has gone against Ireland’s leading racing yard.
The ruling could have major implications for the racing industry.
At the heart of the issue is the change in legislation made in 2015 which saw ‘agricultural worker’ status removed from racing industry employees.
The amendment was not noticed by most in racing and in May 2016 the WRC carried out an inspection at Ballydoyle and found the employers to be in breach of the law. Compliance orders were served and these were contested by Ballydoyle in the Labour Court last September.
At that two-day hearing the common practice of stable staff working extended hours and deferring days off during busy periods came under scrutiny. They argued that their racing operation was inextricably linked to Coolmore Stud, which is an agricultural enterprise.
In his evidence trainer Aidan O’Brien said it was common for staff to report for work even on days when they were not rostered, such was their connection to the horses he cared for.
Ballydoyle now has the option of appealing the decision to the High Court.
A report published by RTE on Friday evening says that the Labour Court ruling holds a very clear view that racing is not an agricultural activity.
The Labour Court rejected Ballydoyle’s view that it was entitled to the derogation from providing statutory rest periods for agricultural activities under the Organisation of Working Time Act, and allowed the WRC compliance notices to stand.
LOTS MORE RACING NEWS IN THE IRISH FIELD THIS WEEKEND