INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
MANUFACTURING, SCIENCE, FINANCE
1. Job sharing.
2. The Company was established in 1970 and employs a workforce of 430 people. The majority are based at head office, while 164 workers are employed as indoor staff in 45 local offices throughout the country. In 1990 the Union referred a claim for the introduction of a pilot job sharing scheme at head office to the Labour Court. The Court rejected the Union's claim in Labour Court Recommendation 12746. Subsequently the Company introduced job sharing at head office. The dispute concerns a further claim by the Union for a pilot job sharing scheme to be introduced in one of the local offices with a view to extending the scheme throughout the branch network. The Company has rejected the claim on the grounds that the nature of work in local offices dictates full-time attendance and continuity to provide a personal service to clients.
The matter could not be resolved at local level negotiations and was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission on 21st November, 1995. Agreement was not reached and the Union later requested referral to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Company agreed and the issue was referred to the Court on 11th June, 1996. The Labour Court investigated the dispute on 15th August, 1996.
3. 1. A job sharing scheme at branch level could provide significant benefits to both the Company and the staff. The introduction of a pilot scheme in one or two branches for a period of six months to one year would establish the viability of such a scheme.
2. The many benefits of job sharing for employers include a lower turnover of staff, availability of additional cover in peak periods, greater flexibility and better continuity of work due to fewer absences. There is also evidence of greater productivity among job sharers.
3. Job sharing allows workers the opportunity to balance work with personal responsibilities and to develop skills and interests outside of the work place. Most jobs can be shared successfully with good management, organisation and communication.
4. 1. The Company has no fundamental objection to the principle of job sharing, as it has introduced job sharing in other departments to the mutual benefit of employees and the Company. However local offices operate with small teams of workers dealing individually and directly with customers on a one-to-one basis. The introduction of job sharing would be disruptive, inefficient and would ultimately lead to a loss of business.
2. The implementation of a job sharing arrangement would lead to additional training costs, overhead costs and administration costs. A job sharing arrangement should be introduced voluntarily where it is mutually beneficial to both parties.
The Court has considered the submissions from the parties and has taken into account the previous Labour Court Recommendation and what has taken place since then. The Court notes that the parties accept that a job sharing scheme should be on a voluntary and a mutually agreed basis.
The Company's view as outlined is not unreasonable taking into account the nature of the business and the organisation structure. The Court nevertheless considers that a pilot scheme as sought by the Union could produce positive results.
The Court accordingly recommends that the Company agrees to a six month trial scheme in an agreed location provided it is clearly understood that at the end of the trial period the parties will objectively review the operation and if either party finds the pilot scheme to be unsatisfactory it can revert to the position prior to the pilot scheme.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th September, 1996______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.