INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
AN BREACADH NUA, ARD AOIBHINN CENTRE
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Owens
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Rate of pay for House Parents.
2. In 1995 two Centres, St. Michael's and St. Clare's, which care for people with disabilities, merged to form An Breacadh Nua in Wexford Town. A purpose-built facility, the Ard Aoibhinn Centre, which was opened early that year caters for people of all ages, with varying levels of disability. The Centre can cater for up to 60 clients who are admitted through referrals from the South Eastern Health Board (SEHB). The Centre is run by a voluntary committee which is elected annually and is 80% funded by the SEHB, with the remaining funds raised through voluntary means. The centre currently employs a total of 23 workers.
The Centre was originally established to provide activities and services for adults and children during day-time hours. In 1997, at the request of the Board, the Centre agreed to provide an additional residential group home service for adults, requiring the employment of a house parent, at a rate equivalent to 80% of that received qualified house parents with the Board. The Union is seeking the full rate on the basis that the Centre agreed parity with Board rates, in 1995. The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, at which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 20th of January, 1998, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation, in Wexford, on the 29th of April, 1998. Both parties made supplementary written submissions to the Court, subsequent to the Court hearing.
3. 1. The House Parent position in the Centre must draw the same conditions as apply to similar posts in the Health Board. The job was advertised as "House Parent" and no pay rate was specified in the media nor was pay referred to at interview. Accordingly, it was reasonable to assume that the nationally established rate would apply.
2. The Centre is exploiting staff by taking advantage of their dedication and commitment to their jobs. The Centre is directly funded by the SEHB which also has representation on the Centre's Board. The SEHB also sits on the boards of other similar bodies where the proper rates and conditions apply. The post of House Parent with the Brothers of Charity, Waterford, is similar to the House Parent post at the Centre. However, the Waterford post is paid in accordance with the national scale.
4. 1. The Centre agreed to provide an additional group home service on the condition that there would be no adverse financial implications for it. The Health Board has made it clear that 80% of the qualified House Parent rate is the rate applying to the House Parent position in this service.
2. Any payment over and above the 80% would have to be met by the Centre which is reliant entirely on voluntary contributions for all such costs. This would place a heavy strain on the Centre's resources.
3. No specific qualification is required for the role of House Parent in An Breacadh Nua, where the clients are semi-independent adults requiring supervisory care alone. All house parents employed elsewhere in the Board are based in the childcare area, involving development, educational and supervisory work.
4. The issue of parity with Health Board employees was considered by the Labour Court in a dispute between SOS Kilkenny Limited, a Section 65 funded service, and SIPTU (LCR14051). The Court found that "there are no grounds for concession of the claim for parity with the Health Board employees". While the Court did consider that "there is a basis for a relationship to exist between the rates of pay of the employees concerned and the rates of pay of comparable employees in the South Eastern Health Board", such a relationship does exist in An Breacadh Nua whereby the House Parent receives 80% of the South Eastern Health Board rate.
5. The post in the Brothers of Charity, Waterford is not relevant to this dispute as it is 100% funded by the Department of Health, whereas An Breacadh Nua is a Section 65 Health Board funded agency. A recommendation for parity would have repercussions in other organisations and services receiving Section 65 funding.
Having considered the submissions from the parties, and taking into account the considerable additional information supplied subsequent to the hearing, the Court has concluded that in the circumstances pertaining as to funding and comparability, it would not be justified in recommending concession of the claim.
The Court notes that the two other items raised by the Union in the course of the hearing, i.e., sleepover and overtime for Saturday/Sunday require further conciliation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th August, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.