INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
JURY'S HOTEL GROUP
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY BRENDAN CLARKE & CO., SOLICITORS)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Change to work practices.
2. The dispute concerns a worker (Ms. R) who is one of 2 workers claiming that the Company has unilaterally attempted to change their work practices, to their detriment. The worker has been a supervisor in the Coffee Dock, in Jury's Hotel for over 20 years. She claims that, in or about December, 1997, management told her that she along with her colleague would be responsible for the compilation of staff rosters. The worker's response was that rostering had never been part of her duties and, accordingly, she was averse to taking on the extra burden of being fully responsible for the rostering, primarily because of how time-consuming the responsibility was. The preparation of rosters had been done by the head supervisor, who retired in September, 1997. The matter was the subject of local discussions, followed by a referral, agreed by the Company and the worker's Union representative, to a Rights Commissioner, for investigation. Following a change in Union personnel the new Union representative sought to negotiate a solution prior to the Rights Commissioner's investigation. A set of proposals emerged, following further discussions, which were documented in a Company letter to the Union, dated the 26th of March, 1998. It was proposed that
1. it be accepted by the workers concerned that the rosters "are their responsibility as supervisors" and are not the sole responsibility of one individual as had been their position;
2. they could not refuse to do the roster;
3. on the appointment of a third supervisor, the latter would complete the rosters. In the event of the absence for any reason of the third supervisor, the 2 supervisors concerned could complete the rosters.
These proposals were unacceptable to the worker and her colleague and the matter was referred by them, separately, to the Labour Court, on the 23rd of October, 1998, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court carried out its investigation on the 12th of January, 1999.
1. The worker has been a supervisor for over 20 years. By practice and procedure, the issue of rostering has never been part of her duties.
2. In late 1997, the worker was told by the then general manager that her job-content was to be changed, to include rostering, without consultation. She was averse to taking on the extra responsibility because of the complexity of the work involved and the time required to perform the function.
3. When the worker was told of the change in her duties, she was not offered any form of compensation for the extra inconvenience that would inevitably follow. This contrasts with the treatment by the Hotel of housemaids who had an extra duty imposed on them in the form of having to replenish tea-making facilities in the bedrooms and who were paid a lump sum and, more importantly, had their working day shortened by half an hour.
4. The Hotel has previously required the worker to undertake extra responsibilities/flexibility (details to the Court). The worker has had no objections and has been happy to comply with changes to arrangements which would lead to an improved service to customers.
5. The preparedness on the part of the worker to be flexible and as helpful as possible was manifest in other ways. To ensure that the wage sheets (the responsibility of the senior supervisor) were completed on time, it was necessary for the senior supervisor to come into the Coffee Dock on Sundays specially for that purpose, even when he was not rostered for duty. The worker voluntarily undertook to complete the wage sheets on Sundays when she was on duty, releasing the senior supervisor from the requirement to come in. She still performs this task.
6. The worker was told she would be suspended without pay. This decision was reached by management, without any great effort to compromise or to hear reasonable argument from the worker. The arrangement agreed as a temporary compromise, that the worker would do the rostering pending the outcome subsequently, was conditional on the Hotel providing reasonable back-up and time to enable the worker to carry out the rostering function. Only on 2 occasions has the Hotel provided back-up staff or appropriate facilities, since December, 1997.
7. The worker is, in effect, unwilling to undertake the responsibility of rostering. She has uncomplainingly put up with several changes to work practices over the last three years and has voluntarily undertaken responsibilities which were not strictly hers. She has had a significant increase in her workload in the form of the changes to the Coffee Dock and the increased staff. She genuinely believes she is being asked to do too much in taking on the rostering and, accordingly, will not be able to so the rostering effectively and efficiently.
1. When the head supervisor left the hotel in September, 1997, the supervisors in the Coffee Dock were given responsibility for drawing up staff rosters. The issue was raised by the worker and her colleague as a matter of dispute as they were of the view that it was not part of their jobs. They argued that the head supervisor had been paid specially to draw up rosters, whereas the Hotel's position was that the head supervisor was actually paid for carrying out the totality of that role from the point of view of over-all staff management, comprising discipline, customer service and liaising with kitchen staff. As supervisor, the worker and her colleague also still had responsibilities in these areas.
2. Supervisors in the Coffee Dock, while not having had responsibility for drawing up the main rosters, have always had an involvement with the rosters, in that they made amendments to provide for necessary changes to cover for absences. On the night shift, it has been the practice that the night supervisor draws up the rosters. What is required of the worker and her colleague is no different that what is required of other supervisors in the Hotel.
3. In an attempt to settle this dispute, the Hotel agreed that the responsibility for drawing up the rosters on an on-going basis would not be given to the present supervisors, but would be the job of the new supervisor. This constitutes a considerable move away from the Hotel's original intention in this respect and would appear to have been acceptable to the Union.
4. The letter of March, 26th, 1998, which is an agreed proposal based on a Union initiative, proposes that the supervisors accept that they have responsibility with respect to the roster and that they draw up the roster in the event of the absence of the third supervisor. While the Hotel accepted this proposal, which is a major concession on its part, it was on the basis of an assurance given by the Union that this would resolve the dispute. This concession is, however, still on offer and it is clearly the simplest and most reasonable way of resolving the dispute.
The Court considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties and is of the view that the proposals of 26th March, 1998, between the Union and Management are the best means of resolving this issue.
Therefore, the Court recommends that they should be accepted by both parties.
The Court recommends, further, that when the claimant is required to prepare the rosters she should be allocated a suitable environment in which to carry out this task.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th January, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.