INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HEALTH SERVICE EMPLOYERS' AGENCY
- AND -
IRISH NURSES' ORGANISATION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Payment of community allowance.
2. The Union is seeking that the community allowance which is paid to psychiatric nurses be offered to general nurses. The claim is on behalf of ward sisters and staff nurses.
In 1984, Government policy, "Planning for the Future" provided a change in the delivery of psychiatric services in the community. The policy involved allowing psychiatric patients to live at home or in the community rather than in an institution. This resulted in a change of working conditions for psychiatric nurses. Working in an institution involved premium payment for night work and weekend work. The change to community working meant that the psychiatric nurses moved to 5 day working, Monday to Friday and lost out on these premium payments. They sought compensation, and, following a Labour Court hearing, LCR 13358 (known as the Castlerea Formula) was issued. LCR13358 recommended that the psychiatric nurses be paid an allowance. This was the origin of the community allowance, which is currently worth £2,306 per annum.
The Union believes that where there is a re-structuring of services resulting in general nurses being changed to Monday to Friday working and losing out on the premium pay, then general nurse should be compensated with an allowance similar to that of psychiatric nurses.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 8th of March, 1999, in accordance with Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 24th of May, 1999.
3. 1. A psychiatric nurse working in the acute psychiatric unit of a hospital, who is required to work Monday to Friday is paid the allowance. A surgical ward sister who is required to do the same in the main hospital gets no payment, which is unfair.
2. Management's claim that a change of location was required to justify the community allowance is factually incorrect. There are examples of payments to people who were not required to change location.
3. Where circumstances are the same, i.e. a requirement to work Monday to Friday with a resulting loss of premia, then general nurses should be treated the same as psychiatric nurses and paid the allowance.
4. 1. The core reason that the community allowance was paid was because of the closure of psychiatric hospitals. As a result, psychiatric nurses moved into community based service resulting in them losing night/weekend work and the resulting premium payments.
2. There is no proposal to close general hospitals or to re-deploy general nurses to the community. There is no requirement on general nurses to change rosters to Monday to Friday working.
3. The community allowance does not apply to psychiatric nurses who continue to work in a hospital.
4. The claim is precluded by the stablisation clause of Partnership 2000.
The Court has given serious consideration to both the written and oral submissions of the parties. The Court is satisfied that the community allowance is not a compensation packageper se, for loss of earnings. The Court is of the view that this allowance is paid in the following circumstances:
- as a result of service-based change, essentially bringing about a fundamental change in the working life of the psychiatric nurse for the future.
- where there is no option regarding the changed conditions, resulting in a substantial loss of earnings for many psychiatric nurses e.g. change in roster with the resultant loss in premia.
- where the potential for future ability to work such rosters becomes almostnegligible.
In the Court's view, such conditions pertain to the change which has taken place in the provision of psychiatric care. A change has occurred which will permanently alter the working conditions of psychiatric nurses with little prospect of reversal. This fundamental concept does not exist in general nursing which, it is reported to the Court, is expanding its hospitalisation care presently. Therefore, the Court cannot see any grounds for extending the community allowance to general nurses.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd June, 1999.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.