INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(5), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND CHILDREN
(REPRESENTED BY HEALTH SERVICE EMPLOYERS' ASSOCIATION
IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
IRISH NURSES' ORGANISATION
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
PSYCHIATRIC NURSES' ASSOCIATION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Hearing arising from LCR15450.
2. LCR15450 issued on the 7th of March, 1997, as a result of a Labour Court hearing dealing with the pay and conditions of nurses which took place on the 5th of February, 1997. One of the recommendations of LCR15450 was that a Commission on Nursing be set up within a month of the recommendation being issued. The Report of the Commission on Nursing (the Report) issued on the 31st of July, 1998.
The Report, in paragraph 6.65 and 6.66 which deals with dual qualification, location based and qualification allowances, determined:-
"that the forum in which these claims should be addressed
is properly the Labour Court."
As a result, the Court invited the parties to attend a Labour Court hearing, which took place on the 25th of October, 1998.
At the hearing, the Unions (Nursing Alliance) listed eight claims for improvement in allowances - dual qualification, specialist/location, Saturday/unsocial hours, theatre on-call, public health nurse weekend, senior nurse managers on-call, forensic, and child and adolescent psychiatry. The Unions claim is as follows:-
1. Dual Qualification
Nurses who hold two or more of the following qualifications - Registered General Nurse (RGN) , Registered Mental Handicap Nurse (RMHN) or Registered Psychiatric Nurse (RPN) were placed on the dual qualification staff nurse pay scale up to the 1st of October, 1996. However, nurses who are registered sick children's nurses or registered midwives, in addition to holding one of the 3 qualifications above, are excluded from the same pay scale.
The present allowance for nurses who are working in certain specified areas and/or have attained an additional specialist qualification is £328 per annum. The Unions are seeking that nurses working in the specified area (details supplied to the Court) should receive a supplementary allowance equal to 5% of salary. Nurses who hold a specialist qualification and are working in that speciality should receive an allowance equal to 10% of salary.
3. Saturday/unsocial hours
Nurses presently receive a flat allowance of £7.86 for working Saturdays. The Unions are seeking time plus one half for every hour worked on Saturdays. For every hour worked after 5.00 p.m. Monday to Friday, payment should be at time plus one third.
4. Theatre on-call emergency service
There are two types of on-call services - (a) with standby, where a nurse will usually "live-in" and (b) without standby, where a nurse is off-duty but in a position to respond to a hospital need. The rates as at the 1st of July, 1998, and the claimed rates are as follows:-
- On-call with standby 1/7/98 Claimed
Monday to Friday (each day) £11.82 £15.00
Saturday £15.13 £20.00
Sunday - Public Holiday £22.62 £25.00
Fee for operation £22.72 £30.00*
On-call without standby£31.80 £ 35.00
- (* for first hour, £15.00 for each subsequent half-hour)
- (* for first hour, £15.00 for each subsequent half-hour)
At present, a public health nurse is rostered to provide weekend cover for home visits. The present rate and the Unions' claimed rates are as follows:-
- old rate claimed rate
Fixed payment £15.12 £20.00
First call on Saturday/Sunday £20.08 £25.00
Each subsequent call on
Saturday/Sunday £10.07 £15.00
Payment in lieu of time off for
emergency work £15.10 £20.00
The Unions are seeking payment of an on-call allowance of £45 per week for senior nurses required to provide on-call services. They are also seeking a payment of: 4 hours' minimum payment up to 12 midnight, and 8 hours' minimum payment after 12 midnight/weekends for senior nurses when they are called out.
7. Forensic allowance
Psychiatric nurses who complete the Forensic Psychiatric Nursing course and who work in forensic psychiatry are paid an allowance of £1,200 per annum. The Unions are seeking a 10% forensic allowance for all nurses who have acquired the qualification and are working in this specialist area .
8. Child and adolescent psychiatric allowance
The Unions are seeking an allowance of 5% of salary for nurses specialising in this area, and 10% for those specialising and who hold the post graduate qualification.
3. 1. Dual Qualification
Under the Nurses Act, 1985, there are five initial areas leading to registration in nursing i.e., general, psychiatry, sick children, midwifery and mental handicap. There is no reason why only three of the five areas are recognised for inclusion on the dual qualified staff nurse scale e.g., a nurse holding two registerable qualifications in general, sick children and midwifery nursing is not eligible for dual qualification. Any nurse who holds two of the five qualifications should be eligible.
The current payment of £328 is wholly inadequate. If nurses are to work in unattractive/difficult/unpopular areas or have, at their own expense, undertaken a further specialist full-time course, they should be properly rewarded financially. People working in the public sector - prison officers, gardai, teachers etc.- all receive significant allowances for undertaking additional qualifications.
3. Saturday/unsocial hours
The present allowance is paid to nurses who work on Saturdays, whether it is for 1 hour or 12 hours. Payment of time plus one half has long been established for many employees in both the public and private sector. Nurses have the longest working week of any grade in health service, and if they work extra hours from Monday to Friday they should be paid appropriately.
4. Theatre on-call emergency service
The existing structure was last reviewed almost 10 years ago and does not reflect modern demands. The number of nurses prepared to provide on-call services is very low. The existing compensatory arrangements, whether financial or time-off in lieu, are outdated.
5. Public Health Nurse weekend
The type of service now required at weekends is much more demanding and intense than it was 20 years ago when the present fee structure was introduced. The proposed new rates would more adequately reflect the work being undertaken.
6. Senior Nurse Managers on-call
With the development of community services in mental health and mental handicap, it is senior nurses who have provided 24-hour supervision, advice and support to staff in these services. Rostered on-call arrangements have been provided, unpaid, in a number of services in recent years. While on-call, senior nurses are required to carry a "bleeper" or mobile phone at all times.
7. Forensic allowance
The current value of the forensic allowance in the UK is £3,300. The present allowance of £1,200 has not increased since it was introduced in 1992. Psychiatric nurses who have been recruited to the Central Mental Hospital since 1992 have to bring a wide range of skills with them.
8. Child and adolescent psychiatric allowance
Many nurses have completed a post-graduate nursing course in child and adolescent psychiatry. Nurses specialising in this field are required to move outside the mainstream of psychiatric service, with a consequent narrowing of career development opportunities.
4. 1. Of the eight issues that the Unions placed before the Court, only two i.e., dual qualification and specialist/location qualifications are proper to the dispute. Four of the issues have nothing to do with allowances. During the course of PCW negotiations, it was management's view that the current system of allowance and the dual qualified scale should be discontinued. These issues should be addressed through the process of specialisation. This position was echoed in the Report which has recommended the development of Clinical Nurse Specialists and Advanced Nurse Practitioner roles.
2. It appears that the Unions are seeking to use the Report as a pretext for re-opening the PCW local bargaining clause. It is clear from the terms of LCR15450, and the terms of reference of the Commission, that this was never envisaged.
3. Dual qualified role
The Nurses' Register indicates that at the end of 1997 there were 14,776 registered midwifery qualifications and 3,595 registered sick children's nursing qualifications. If 75% of those involved were to be paid on the higher dual qualified scale, the potential cost would be over £13 million, inclusive of premia and employers' PRSI. The dual qualified scale is retained on a "red-circle" basis and personal to those in receipt of same on the 1st of October, 1996 and to those in appropriate post-graduate training on that date only. Possession of a qualification, such as midwifery or sick children, does not merit payment on a higher scale.
4. Specialist/location allowances
Location based and qualification allowances are paid at present to nurses who satisfy the following criteria as set out:-
(a) Holding special certificates in midwifery, paediatrics or orthopaedics when
engaged on such duty.
(b) Engaged on the following duties: theatre, geriatric units, longstay hospitals or units in country homes, cancer units or intensive care units.
The current value of this allowance of £328. Over 50% of nurses benefit.
It was subsequently agreed, following an Adjudication Board finding on the 23rd of September, 1996, that "location based and qualification allowances would continue to be paid to all nurses qualifying for same until revised arrangements are agreed between the parties on the issue."
5. The settlement which resulted from LCR15450 demonstrated that, regardless of the views of the Unions, nurses' pay cannot be dealt with in isolation from public service pay generally. A number of other groups made similar claims to the nurses following the issuing of LCR15450. It is not credible to believe that further improvement for nurses would not result in further claims from other groups. Excessive pay demands in the public sector risk undermining the competitiveness of the entire economy.
The Court issued its recommendation LCR15450 in March, 1997 following its intervention after the rejection by the nurses of three different negotiated proposals. These negotiations had included one assisted by the Labour Relations Commission and another by an agreed Adjudication Tribunal. Following the rejection of the last set of proposals, the Unions served strike notice to take effect on the 10th of February, 1997. It was in this context that the Labour Court invited the parties to attend a hearing in accordance with Section 26(5) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. This hearing took place on the 5th of February, 1997 and the Court issued its recommendations on the 7th of March, 1997. At the hearing the Union made five claims and they were:-
- 1. the abolition of proposed lower entry points for staff nurse grade,
2. that salary scales for staff nurse grade should equal the Grade 5 Administrative Officer (AO) at the maximum of the scale,
3. that full incremental credit be granted to temporary nursing staff,
4. that the dual qualified nurse scale be applied/extended to cover registered midwives and registered sick children's nurses,
5. claim for application of retirement for all nurses in the same manner as presently available for psychiatric nursing staff.
During the hearing the Court indicated that it had some difficulties with some of the claims as they had not been referred to by the Adjudicating Tribunal and there was some doubt as to when they had originally been claimed.
The Court in LCR15450 dealt with four of the five claims submitted by the Union. The one not dealt with was the one in relation to Dual Qualification.
In its recommendation the Court strongly recommended the immediate setting up of a Commission on Nursing to examine a wide range of issues such as structural and work changes, segmentation of the grade, training and education requirements, promotional opportunities and related difficulties, and a general assessment of the evolving role of nurses.
Commission on Nursing
The Commission on Nursing was set up following discussions between the parties involved and although the terms of reference were agreed by the parties as per the Labour Court recommendation, a dispute arose in relation to the scope of the terms of reference. Following submissions to the Commission by the Nursing Alliance, the HSEA wrote to the Commission, indicating that while they envisaged that the Commission would make recommendations on structural and policy issues which could have pay implications, they did not see it making any specific recommendations on pay and conditions of employment for nurses.
The Nursing Alliance, on the other hand, made a detailed claim to the Commission in relation to allowances covering a wide range of issues, and argued that the Commission should address all issues including pay and conditions.
It was also clear at this stage that the management were arguing that these negotiations had been completed by Labour Court Recommendation 15450 and that any other pay issues arising would have to be dealt with in a future context. The Union on the other hand were claiming that the Commission was part of the completion of this round of negotiations.
The Commission in its Report made over 200 recommendations and in paragraphs 6.65 and 6.66 addressing the issues of dual qualification and location/qualification allowances recommends that:
- “outstanding claims for allowances should be referred to the Labour Court for argument and determination as a matter of urgency.”
The Court at a hearing of the 28th of October, 1998 heard submissions from the Nursing Alliance and the HSEA. The Nursing Alliance put down claims for improvements and/or extensions to the following:-
- 1. Dual qualification allowance.
2. Specialist/location allowance.
3. Saturday/unsocial hours.
4. Theatre on-call.
5. Public health nurse payment.
6. Senior nurse manager on-call.
8. Child and adolescent psychiatry.
Management argued that most of these items were new and had not been raised before. The Alliance argued that the Commission had made it clear that allowances should be examined by the Court, and that these claims had been previously raised.
The Court having considered all the arguments made by both sides is satisfied that the first two claims listed above were raised in the Court in February, 1997 and it was the Court's intention that these would be dealt with by the Commission. However, the Commission having referred them back to the Court and the Court, being satisfied that these two items are correctly before it, now proposes to make recommendations on these two claims.
The other claims, while they may be seen as legitimate claims or grievances on the Union side, are not seen as having been part of the 1997 claim. The Alliance is, of course, free to raise these issues in the wider discussions in relation to implementation of the report of the Commission on Nursing.
The Court, therefore, proposes to deal with the two items outstanding from its 1997 hearing, (1) Dual Qualification and (2) Specialist and Location allowances.
The Adjudication Tribunal Report (The Blue Book), which was incorporated in Labour Court Recommendation 15450 of February 1997 except where otherwise amended in the recommendation, retained on a red-circled and personal to holder basis the Dual Qualification scale for those involved as at 1st October 1996. The Blue Book also refers to re-visiting the issue as part of a ‘phase 2’ stage.
The Nursing Alliance has claimed that the Dual Qualification scale should apply to the holders of any two State registered nursing qualifications - the present agreement omits Midwifery and Sick Children's Nursing. The HSEA argues that the present Dual Qualification scale is an anomaly, and that the general principle of payment for qualifications used or required for a post should apply.
The Court is conscious that management wish to eliminate these payments for the future, but notes that that the ‘Blue Book’ allows for the future of the issue of dual qualified nurses, presently applying only up to the date of 1st October 1996, to be revisited by the parties as part of ‘services requirements’.
Taking this into account the Court, having considered the arguments made by both parties, recommends as follows:
The qualifications of Midwifery and Sick Children's Nursing, where held or under appropriate post-graduate training on 1st October 1996, should also be treated from the 1st of August, 1998 as payable on the dual qualified scale, and similarly red-circled to the holders. The same qualification, in relation to revisiting as part of the “service requirements”, is to apply.
(2)Location-Based And Qualification Allowances
Currently an allowance at a rate of £328 p.a. is paid to nurses holding special certificates while engaged on duties relevant to these certificates. A similar allowance is also paid to nurses while working in specific units where duties are considered more onerous or less attractive. The Adjudication Board proposed that these allowances continue unchanged until otherwise revised between the parties. The Labour Court is satisfied that the two issues were discussed at the hearing in 1997, and it was the intention of the Court that these would be dealt with by the Commission.
The Nursing Alliance is seeking to have the two allowances differentiated and paid at considerably higher rates, and submitted significant arguments in order to justify this. The Alliance made clear to the Court that it was not seeking to extend either the qualifications, areas, or basis on which these allowances are currently paid. Given this reassurance, the Court makes the following recommendation:
Location-based Allowances: Those in receipt of the present allowance paid for location-based reasons should be paid such allowance at a rate of £1000 p.a. when engaged on duties in these recognised locations. Such payments should date from the 1st of August, 1998.
Qualification-based Allowances: The Court recommends that those in receipt of the present allowance paid for special certificates/qualifications should be paid such allowance at a rate of £1500 p.a. when engaged on duties appropriate to these qualifications. Such payments should again date from 1st August, 1998. Those in receipt of the Dual Qualification scale and also qualifying for this allowance should only receive one payment - the higher of the two - while working on qualifying duties.
The Court is satisfied that it has dealt with the two claims outstanding from Recommendation No. 15450.
In relation to the other issues raised before the Court or referred from the Commission, as the Court has already stated, the Alliance is free to raise these as part of the detailed discussions on the implementation of the Commission's Report on Nursing. These discussions should commence immediately and be completed by May 1st, 1999.
While significant progress has been made by the nursing profession in moving towards realising their aspirations to have the profession placed on a footing commensurate with its contribution in the community, the Court believes further progress can be made through the Report of the Commission on Nursing.
It is now incumbent on the parties to progress the Commission on Nursing Report which they have both welcomed, by entering into comprehensive discussions on its implementation.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
9th February, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.