INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
NORTH EASTERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr Rorke
1. Lump sum from Castlerea Formula.
2. The worker concerned commenced employment as a psychiatric nurse in the Louth/Meath Mental Health Services in 1981. From 1981 to October, 1990 she was assigned duties on the normal roster at St. Brigids Hospital, Ardee. In October, 1990 she was rostered to work a five day week and on the 9th of January, 1995 she was assigned to the occupational therapy unit attached to the hospital. This post attracts the community allowance and the worker was paid this allowance when she was assigned to the post.
The dispute before the Court concerns the Union's claim on behalf of the worker for compensation for loss of earnings under the "Castlerea Formula". Under the "Castlerea Formula" nurses assigned to work in the community on a continuous basis are eligible for compensation based on two years loss of premium earnings, less the value of the community allowance.
The worker argues that she requested a transfer to community based services on a five- day roster in the summer of 1990, and only agreed to take up the offer of a five-day roster in the hospital on the understanding that when a vacancy arose in the community she would be offered the post.
Management rejects the claim. Its position is that in October, 1990 the worker was rostered on a five day week at her own request and that when she moved to the community she had no change of roster and, therefore, suffered no loss of premium earnings.
The matter was the subject of a conciliation conference held under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 7th of May, 1999 under Section 26 (1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place in Drogheda on the 8th of June, 1999.
3. 1. The worker requested a five-day roster in the community in early 1990, following a period in which she had worked in a hostel setting and spent part of the working day in a day centre. She was offered a five-day week in the hospital in October, 1990 and she agreed to take up this position on the understanding that when a vacancy became available she would be given the opportunity to work in the community. At no stage did management indicate that other people had requested a five-day roster in the community.
2. In early 1991, the worker applied to fill a vacancy in the Navan area which became vacant due to maternity leave. In 1992 and 1993 vacancies arose in the Dundalk area and she applied to fill these vacancies. She failed to secure any of the vacancies. The Union is concerned that she was overlooked for these positions in favour of other nurses who had less service.
3. The five day roster in the hospital was not strictly Monday to Friday. The worker attended for duty on 16 Saturdays from October, 1990 to August, 1991. She requested Sunday duties but was refused this by the Acting Chief Nursing Officer.
4. The five-day roster suited the hospital more than it suited the worker. She was constantly moved from ward to ward wherever vacancies arose. In an environment where services were becoming community orientated it is difficult to understand how it took five years for the worker to get a community placement. The worker had indicated to management that she was prepared to travel wherever a vacancy arose.
5. The worker has continued to work in the community services since 1995, and meets the criteria under the "Castlerea Formula" for payment of this allowance. In the circumstances the Court is respectfully requested to recommend in the worker's favour.
4. 1. In 1997, after completing two years assignment in the community post, the worker applied for the lump sum compensation. As there was no loss of premium earnings involved the Board's view is that no compensation is payable under the "Castlerea Formula" in accordance with LCR13358.
2. As the Occupational Therapy department in St. Brigids is a community based facility the worker qualified for and was paid a community allowance of £2,306 per annum following her appointment to that unit.
3. By receiving payment of this allowance the worker's earnings have actually increased as a result of her assignment to the community-based facility. The worker did not suffer any loss in premium earnings consequent to her move and accordingly there can be no claim for loss of earnings compensation.
The Court was presented with conflicting evidence as to the reasons why the claimant was rostered on a five-day week from 1990.
The claimant argued that she was doing this roster on the understanding that she would be given a five-day roster in the community as soon as a vacancy arose.
Management argued that at her own request she was facilitated from October, 1990 on this roster and that these arrangements did not suit the needs of the hospital.
Having considered the written and oral submissions of the parties the Court does not recommend concession of this claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th June, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Fran Brennan, Court Secretary.