INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
BON SECOURS HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Dispute concerning contribution towards the cost of uniforms.
2. The dispute concerns approximately 100 workers who are employed on non-nursing duties. The hospital requires that the workers concerned wear a uniform to work. The uniform can be purchased through the hospital or direct from the supplier. The uniform costs approximately £36. The Union claims that the hospital should cover the cost. Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference was held on the 9th of December, 1997. No agreement could be reached and the dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 5th of February, 1998. A Court hearing was held in Cork on the 12th of March, 1998.
3. 1. The workers concerned are required to wear uniforms at all times to work solely at Management's direction. This necessitates a minimum of two sets per employee. In the circumstances the uniforms should be provided by the hospital.
2. The workers have a very low net take-home pay for a trying, demanding job.
3. All Health Board hospitals in the city area provide their non-nursing staff with two sets of uniforms per year.
4. The workers concerned provide a wide variety of tasks associated with the hospital service, to patients and staff alike. As well as performing their duties effectively and conscientiously the workers must maintain a high standard of hygiene and appearance.
5. The employer operates the best known and financially successful private hospital outside Dublin. It can well afford the cost involved and would give some recognition to the employees' work and contribution.
4. 1. The Union's reference to practices within Health Board hospitals is not acceptable as the Bon Secours Hospital is not a publicly funded agency.
2. Recently a review was carried out in relation to practice in other Bon Secours hospitals. It was established that an unofficial practice did exist which allows for the hospital to fund 50% of household uniform costs in the event of a change in style. As a change in style is currently being organised Management has made this offer to the Union.
3. Management cannot consider providing uniforms on a repeat basis because of economic considerations. Also it is not the prevailing practice generally in Ireland.
4. The practice of providing contribution towards uniform costs is not applied to most categories of staff in hospitals.
5. If the principle of providing uniforms was conceded it would give rise to repercussive claims within the hospital.
The Court has considered the submissions made by the parties at the hearing and the information subsequently provided.
The Court notes that the Revenue Commissioners allow a special tax free allowance in the case of the claimants, the net value of which should contribute significantly to the costs incurred in the provision and maintenance of uniforms. On this basis the Court recommends that the Union accept the employers offer to meet 50% of the cost of new uniforms when a change of style is introduced.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th September, 1998______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.