INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
COMMUNICATIONS WORKER'S UNION
1. Refusal of An Post to promote a worker to post office clerk.
2. The dispute before the Court concerns An Post's refusal to promote a worker following a competition for appointment to the grade of post office clerk in 1990.
The worker concerned is employed by An Post as a postal sorter at its newly opened Dublin Mails Centre in Knockmitten, Dublin 12.
In accordance with normal procedures the worker's name was placed on a panel from which future appointments might be made in the Dublin area. Due to a shortage of post office clerks at provincial offices, the worker was offered an appointment at a provincial office in 1994. He declined the offer.
The worker was considered for promotion in the Dublin area on a number of occasions between January, 1995 and February, 1996 but his sick absence and late attendance records were unacceptable for promotion purposes.
The Union claims that a considerable part of the worker's sick absence is due to an injury which he received at work in May, 1989. Local level discussions took place between the parties following which management, in May, 1996, confirmed its decision not to promote the worker.
The Union referred the matter to the Labour Court for investigation and recommendation on 4th June, 1996 under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Labour Court hearing took place on 20th August, 1996.
3. 1. The Union accepts that the worker was warned about his late attendance record in 1995, however, the period in question coincided with the relocation of staff from the Central Sorting Office to the Dublin Mails Centre. The staff concerned did experience difficulties in commuting to the new location, especially those who like the worker, reside on the Northside of the city. He had fifteen late attendances between January, 1995 and December, 1995, seven of which were marginally in excess of the six minutes grace which is allowed before late attendances are recorded.
2. The worker had a genuine expectation that he would be promoted to the post office clerk grade. It was absences which occurred as a result of an accident that put his sick absence record outside the limit for promotion purposes.
3. Staff who are promoted are required to serve a probationary period. If during this period a worker's sick absence, late attendances or disciplinary record is unsatisfactory he/she can be reverted to their former grade.
4. A postal sorter in Limerick was informed that he was ineligible for promotion due to his unsatisfactory sick absence record. Following representations by the Union, An Post decided to promote the person concerned. The fact that he could be reverted to his former grade if he came under notice as a result of an unsatisfactory sick absence record was made clear to him by the Union. In the circumstances the Court is requested to recommend that the worker be promoted to the post office clerk grade.
4. 1. The worker was notified in September, 1990 that he was successful in the post office clerk competition. He was fully aware of the importance of maintaining a satisfactory attendance record to enable him fulfil the requirements for promotion. His unsatisfactory attendance record was brought to his attention on a number of occasions, culminating in the privilege of uncertified sick absence being withdrawn in August, 1993, this position is still in force.
2. When he was first considered for promotion in early 1995, his sick absence record was considerably above an acceptable level. Despite this the Company advised him that if his record showed a sustained and consistent improvement consideration would be given to promoting him at a later date.
3. Following representation from the Union, the workers sick absence record was submitted to the Chief Medical Officer (CMO) for his consideration and to ascertain if any of the absences could be allowed under the regulations outlined in DPS Circular 34/76. The CMO advised that his sick absence record was above the limit and did not advise that any of the absences be allowed.
4. The Company reviewed his case in September, 1995 and even though his record was still outside the limit, the Company was prepared to give him credit for his improved record and promote him. It was the emergence of the details of his unsatisfactory late attendance for which a pay increment due on 14th April, 1995 had been disallowed that prevented his promotion.
5. The Company has given the worker every opportunity and incentive to further his career. On the evidence of his sick absence since he entered the Company in 1987 he has shown that he is not capable of giving regular and effective service in the grade of post office clerk. The Company could not reasonably be expected to promote the worker in the circumstances.
The Court having considered all of the issues raised by the parties in their oral and written submissions finds that the manner in which some of the sick absences were calculated without reference or consultation with the claimant or his representatives left much to be desired.
Further the Court finds that lack of co-ordination between sections of the Company, which in this case culminated in an offer of promotion being withdrawn, both unacceptable and unfair to the claimant.
In all the circumstances the Court considers the claimant should continue to be eligible for promotion until the expiry of the following panel, his sick absence record should be reviewed in consultation with the CMO and his representatives and he should be further considered for promotion in the light of the review or as a result of a sustained or consistent improvement in his record.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd September, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.