INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
FINGLAS CHILDREN'S CENTRE
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged unfair demotion of a worker.
2. The dispute concerns a childcare worker who has been employed by the Centre since September, 1974. In August, 1998 he was promoted to Team Leader, with a probationary period of 11 months.
During the course of the worker's probation, a number of incidents occurred arising from which the Centre felt obliged, firstly, to extend his probation and, ultimately, to revert him to the childcare grade. The Centre claims that the worker's actions went against the agreed procedures of the Centre. The Union claim that the worker's demotion was unfair and that he had done everything possible to achieve excellence in his new position and that he was willing to learn and take on responsibility.
The dispute was referred by the Union to the Labour Court, on the 4th of August, 1999, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. The Court investigated the dispute on the 13th of September, 1999.
3. 1. The worker is a valued member of staff in the Centre who has always shown an evident compassion and care for the children who are placed in the Centre's care. It was for this reason that the decision to terminate his period of probation in the role of Team Leader and revert him to basic childcare grade was a particularly difficult one on a professional level and for several members of the Management Team who enjoyed long personal friendships with him on a personal level.
2. The decision was made from a basis of fairness and objectivity. The role of Team Leader differs from that of a care staff role considerably. It entails the ability to take decisions and be accountable for the results of decisions during periods of stress and pressure and to work within the policies and procedures of the Centre and in the spirit of the Centre's ethos. The Team Leaders have a key role in ensuring the welfare of both children and staff in the Centre. Unfortunately the worker demonstrated to the management that he lacked the appropriate level of leadership and the insight to learn or even recognise his mistakes.
4. 1. Complaints, received by management from members of staff, concerning the worker's leadership ability, were not handled in a proper and fair manner by management (details supplied to the Court).
2. The workerdid not act in any way that would undermine his staff and at all times he acted in the interests of the children and staff.
3. He was not unwilling to accept training to improve his skills in weak areas. Although his appraisal indicated that there was no difficulty with his performance, management still decided to extend his probationary period.
4. It is not accepted that management might have made a mistake in promoting the worker. He is one of the most experienced childcare workers in the Centre and fully warranted the promotion.
It is accepted by management that this employee is a diligent, concerned and compassionate man. The issue in dispute is his ability to act in a Team Leader role.
The Court has considered carefully the written and oral submissions made by the parties.
While the Court accepts the concerns outlined by the management in relation to events and actions involving this employee, the Court is concerned that he was not given sufficient personal training or sufficient warning in relation to his performance.
The Court is conscious of the sensitive nature of the work involved in this institution and must, in making its recommendation, take this into account.
Taking all the information before it into account, the Court recommends that the employee accept the management proposals at this stage.
In return, management shouldactively give the employee every assistance to enable him to overcome the shortcomings management believe he has that prevent him being a Team Leader.
The situation should then be reviewed in 18 months' time.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th September, 1999______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.