INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NORTH WESTERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Holiday arrangements for permanent night staff in St. John's Hospital, Sligo.
2. The Hospital caters for 236 geriatric patients and employs a staff of 180, 9 of whom are affected by this dispute. Those 9 workers work a week on/week off roster, i.e., 11.5 hours per day for 7 days. For public holidays on which they work, they receive 11.5 hours x 2 plus a day (8 hours) off in lieu. For public holidays on they don't work, they are paid as usual as well as receiving a day off. The Union is seeking an allowance of 11.5 hours rather than 8 hours for each public holiday, whether they work or not, a situation that obtains in the Western Health Board ambulance service. The matter came to a head in early 1998 when the Board sought to have workers on night duty take annual leave in blocks of 7 nights rather than blocks of 3 or 4 nights in separate weeks. The dispute 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 3rd of November, 1998, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation, in Donegal, on the 10th of March, 1999, the earliest date convenient to both parties.
1. The workers in question should be allowed the full 11.5 hours off in lieu of public holidays as this is the only way they can have 9 nights off, in line with their counterparts in the health services in Dublin and in the Western Health Board ambulance service.
2. The insistence of the Board that nights off should be taken in blocks of 7 nights has a serious effect on night staff, reducing flexibility which has existed for years and thereby adversely affecting their ability to plan ahead. Should they receive the additional 2/3 nights off sought, their flexibility would be considerably increased facilitating the taking by them of leave in 7 night blocks.
1. The staff were asked to take 1 block of 7 nights to facilitate the rostering system. This is equivalent to day staff taking 2 weeks off. In an emergency situation it wouldn't matter what size block of holidays were taken.
2. The implementation of the Organisation of Working Time (Determination of Pay for Holidays) Regulation, 1997, is applicable to all staff throughout the health services. The provision of of the standard working week is clearly stated as being the entitlement of workers and it is not possible for the Board to enhance that entitlement. The effect of granting an 11.5 hour day instead of of the standard working week would, effectively, give the staff an additional 5 days' leave in 1999, over and above all other staff.
The Court considered the arguments of the parties and notes the leave arrangements in dispute relate to 9 permanent shift workers. The Court considered the position of these workers and is of the view that to restrain the taking of annual leave to blocks of seven nights off is too restrictive. The Court recommends that the Board should revert back to the old arrangement for the taking of annual leave and allow leave to be taken in blocks of four and three nights, as previously.
Also, the Court would expect the Board to conform with the provisions of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997 with regard to public holiday entitlements for those who are required to work on public holidays.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th April, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.