INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
MIDLAND HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Walsh
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation No. CW436/96.
2. The worker was appointed as relief ambulance driver in St. Vincent's' Hospital, Athlone, on the 12th June, 1982. He provided cover for 5.5 hours on each Monday and Tuesday and was on-call for a total of 45 hours for the remainder of the week. In addition, he covered for leave absences of full-time drivers. The number of hours worked by him ranged from 934 hours in 1982/1983 to 1,877 hours in 1994/1995.
In January, 1996, the Board introduced 24 hour cover arrangements in Athlone. The Board requires that all ambulance drivers have successfully completed the approved ambulance drivers' training course and cardiac course. The worker concerned had undergone the training courses in 1983 and 1995 but was unsuccessful. He was assigned to the 24 hour cover as an interim arrangement until a full-time driver could be found.
The Board offered to redeploy the worker as a permanent attendant/driver at the District Hospital, Athlone. The worker declined the offer as it involved patient related duties. As an alternative, the Board offered a part-time driver's post, which included a lump-sum payment in respect of loss of earnings. The driver again declined the offer and the dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner. A hearing took place on the 23rd September, 1996. The Rights Commissioner's Recommendation is as follows:-
"I recommend that the Board offers and the worker accepts a lump sum payment of £12,000 inclusive of any notice, holiday entitlement and statutory redundancy in full and final settlement of any claim relating to his employment and its termination on the 3rd October, 1996.
The worker will receive a further week's paid holiday expiring on 3rd October, 1996. He will present himself then at the Head Office, sign the necessary paperwork, and receive a lump sum.
The Board will explain to him the choices he has regarding superannuation and will provide him with an appropriate written reference."
The worker was named in the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation.
The Union appealed the Recommendation to the Labour Court on the 29th October, 1996, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on 28th January, 1997, in Portlaoise.
3. 1. The worker was employed as a permanent relief ambulance driver on the 11th July, 1982. A letter from the Board confirms this. The amount of hours that he worked was more akin to a full-time employee. Since 1982, the worker has carried out his duties in a satisfactory manner.
2. The alternative work offered by the Board was not suitable to the worker. Of the £12,000 awarded to the worker, £5,400 was non-statutory. This is equal to 1.2 week's pay per year of service. The majority of settlements tend to be 3/4 years' pay per year of service. The award was for a voluntary redundancy, not compulsory, and should attract much higher compensation. The worker was not aware at the time of the Rights Commissioner's hearing that he could appeal the amount awarded to him.
4. 1. Both the Union and the Board agreed the terms of the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation The worker affirmed, in the presence of his Union representative, that he also accepted the terms. The Board has acted fairly and reasonably in the circumstances and kept the worker informed at all times regarding the situation. The Board did offer the worker alternative employment but he declined the offer. The Board could no longer employ the worker as he was unsuccessful in the ambulance drivers' training/cardiac course.
The Court finds no grounds to amend the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation, and, therefore, rejects the appeal.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th February, 1997______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.