INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE HEALTH SERVICE EMPLOYERS' AGENCY)
- AND -
ALLIANCE OF HEALTH SERVICE UNIONS
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Millennium premium payments.
2. The dispute before the Court concerns a claim by the Alliance of Health Service Unions on behalf of members for payment of £100 per hour in respect of the Millennium holiday period in addition to normal premium rates of pay. The Employer rejects this claim on the basis that staff are already adequately compensated for working on public holidays and that the extra public holiday on the 31st of December provides further opportunity to earn premium rates of pay.
The dispute was the subject of two conciliation conferences under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission held on the 2nd of December, 1999, and on the 8th of December, 1999. As agreement was not reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14th of December, 1999.
3. 1. This is a unique event, therefore, staff required to work or to be on-call should be duly compensated for the disruption and the fact that they cannot join in the celebrations.
2. Because of the extra activity during the Millennium holiday period, there are extra demands placed on the staff concerned.
3. Other employers in the Private and Public Sectors are compensating staff who are required to work at this time.
4. A payment of £100 per hour in addition to the normal premium rates should be paid to staff required to work or to be on-call from 8.00 am on the 31st of December, 1999, until 8.00 am on the 2nd of January, 2000. This claim is justified.
4. 1. The Health Service has to provide an essential service 24 hours per day over 365 days of the year. Staff are compensated for the unsocial hours worked. This Millennium holiday period should be treated no differently from the normal public holidays.
2. The Health Service as an employer cannot be compared to employers in the Private Sector, as the numbers of staff in the Health Service are greater.
3. In making the 31st of December, 1999, an extra public holiday this year, it provides a further opportunity for staff to earn extra premium payments.
4. This claim if conceded would cost the Health Service in excess of £35 million. Staff are already adequately compensated for working on public holidays.
This claim came before the Court against the background of a number of settlements providing for significant premium payments in respect of the Millennium holiday period. Those settlements relate to a variety of public enterprise and private sector organisations.
The Employers' position is that adequate provision already exists to compensate employees for the unsocial element involved in working during public holidays. They have also pointed out that an additional public holiday has been designated to the Millennium weekend, thus extending the application of enhanced payments. For these reasons, the Employers have not made any offer in response to the Unions' claim in direct discussions or at conciliation. In consequence, no real negotiations have taken place between the parties on the substance of the claim prior to it being referred to the Court.
While acknowledging the original validity of the Employers' position, in the Court's view subsequent developments regarding special Millennium pay settlements have undermined their stance to the point that it is no longer sustainable.
In other circumstances, the Court would be disposed to recommend that the parties return to conciliation to negotiate on the claim in light of these developments. Due to the exigencies of time, both sides consider that an early recommendation on the substances of the Unions' claim is necessary. For this reason the Court has decided not to take that course of action, but to proceed to make a substantive recommendation on the claim presented by the Unions.
In formulating this recommendation, the Court has had full regard to all of the submissions made by the parties in the course of the initial and resumed hearings. In particular, the Court has taken into account:
- The numbers involved in this claim, which greatly exceed those affected by the settlements to which the Court has been referred.
- The acknowledged knock-on potential of its concession.
- The costs involved.
The Court has also noted the extent to which a pattern has been established by the number and range of agreements already concluded in respect of similar attendance patterns in other employments in the State Enterprise and Private Sectors and has had regard to:
- The uniqueness of the occasion.
- The added unsocial element involved in working over this period.
The Court recommends that an Exceptional Millennium Bonus (EMB) be paid in the following circumstances:
1. Staff required to work between the core hours of 8.00 pm on the 31st of December, 1999 and 8.00 am on the 1st January, 2000.
EMB of £45 per hour worked during this period should be paid in addition to normal public holiday entitlements.
In the case of staff required to work during these core hours the maximum amount payable by way of EMB should be £540.
2. Staff required to work between 8.00 am on the 31st of December, 1999 and 8.00 am on the 2nd of January, 2000, other than during the core hours referred to above.
EMB of £30 per hour worked during this period should be paid in addition to normal public holiday entitlements.
In the case of staff required to work during these non-core hours, the maximum payable by way of EMB should be £360.
In the case of staff required to work a combination of hours between core and non-core hours they should receive the appropriate EMB in respect of the hours actually worked in each period, subject to an absolute maximum of £540.
Staff who are designated as being on-call or on standby and who hold themselves available for work during the period between 8.00 am on the 31st of December, 1999 and 8.00 am on the 2nd January, 2000.
Staff on-call/on standby butawayfromtheir place of employment, should receive an EMB of £180 per call-out period of 24 hours exclusive of any call-out payment normally paid, and proportionately less where the period is less than a complete 24 hours.
Staff on-call/standbyattheir place of employment should receive an EMB of £270 per call-out period of 24 hours, exclusive of normal call-out payments, and proportionately less where the period is less than 24 hours.
Where the call-out period is partially at and partially away from the place of employment, the appropriate EMB should apply on a pro-rata basis.
Where staff on-call are required to work during their call-out period they should receive the appropriate EMB in respect of the hours actually worked, together with the normal public holiday entitlement. In such cases, the EMB in respect of the call-out period should be reduced proportionately.
Scope of Recommendation
This Recommendation is intended to apply to all hourly paid and salaried staff employed under a contract of employment by employers represented by the Health Service Employers' Agency.
The Recommendation is made on the basis of a firm and categorical assurance which the Unions made to the Court, that it will not be cited or relied on in any way whatsoever in support of other claims in the future.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20th December, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Gerardine Buckley, Court Secretary.