INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ROYAL HOSPITAL DONNYBROOK
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Flood
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Travel Allowance.
2. The dispute concerns a claim by the Union for the payment of a travel allowance in respect of non-nursing workers who are employed as Ward Attendants, Care Staff and Household Staff in the Royal Hospital Donnybrook. The hospital is part of the Dublin Voluntary Hospital Group. The claimants work a 5/7 roster shift. The Union's claim is lodged on the basis that the travel allowance as it is currently paid (£16.08) approximately per week) to hospitals in both the Eastern Regional Health Authority and Dublin Voluntary Hospitals should apply to them.
Management rejected the claim. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 20th January, 2000. No agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 20th of January, 2000. A Court hearing was held on the 16th of June, 2000.
3. 1. The workers concerned consider that this claim is justified on the basis of the range and volume of duties undertaken by them in embracing a revised job description, appropriate training and education programmes, which has resulted in the dovetailing with the Ward Attendant/Student Nurses initiative which originated in Beaumont Hospital.
2. Travel Allowance is paid to staff in other Voluntary Hospitals such as Beaumont, Mater and St. Vincent's. It is also paid in James Connolly Memorial Hospital , Tallaght Hospital and in the Eastern Regional Authority areas.
3. Historically, Nurses in the first year following qualification, would be employed in the Royal Hospital. However, since the introduction of the Student Nurse Initiative and Diploma Course, the practice has changed and the Royal Hospital now utilises the increased number of Care Staff to cover duties and responsibilities previously undertaken by Nurses.
4. The Royal Hospital places great emphasis on Team Based Wards as the way forward in providing the highest possible standard of direct patient care. In this respect, Household Staff play a pivotal role in these teams and have undertaken training and education programmes such as Nutilis Hygiene, Infection Control etc., so they can be more involved in food preparation for patients with swallowing difficulties. Household Staff are also involved in diet sheet recording and observing patients' food intake and dietary needs and have become more involved in the serving of food independently of Care and Nursing Staff.
5. With current staff shortages in both Care Staff and Nursing Grades, Household staff in the Royal Hospital are increasingly involved and have to familiarise themselves with the Diet and Care needs of each patient as the hospital is obliged from time to time to employ agency staff who may not be familiar with each patient's needs.
6. The Union considers that the claimants should be paid Travel Allowance in line with other Voluntary Hospitals, as it is recognised that their role has developed in similar fashion with those hospitals.
4. 1. The claim as served is cost increasing and is precluded by Partnership 2000.
2. Concession of the claim could give rise to a significant number of knock-on claims.
3. The case as presented by the Union to date has focused on the claim for the Care Assistant grade and its relatively to the non-participation of Student Nurses in direct patient care due to a revised pre-qualification training programme. This claim is for non-nursing staff: this includes Household staff who have, in common with the Attendant and Care Assistant grades at the Royal Hospital, always worked a five over seven day roster.
4. The Travel Allowance, payment within Regional Health Authority hospitals for some years did not apply in the Voluntary Hospitals until three years ago when the major acute hospitals such as Beaumont, St. James's and St. Vincent's negotiated a grade of Ward Attendant with specific duties on a five over seven day roster. The Travel Allowance issue was the subject of a Labour Court hearing in 1987. LCR 9980 clearly recommended that:
"The Court finds that the Union agreed to drop this claim in return for the payment of another increase under the 23rd Round and the Court does not recommend its concession."
An important element with regard to the changeover from Student Nurse to Ward Attendant was the unilateral change in the tasks and duties of that grade. As the Royal Hospital was the first hospital to introduce an Attendant grade some thirty years ago, there has been no requirement to radically alter the duties of this grade of staff.
5. The grade of Attendant/Care Assistant was also the subject of discussions between SIPTU and Health Services Employers late last year. As a consequence seven named Dublin hospitals, including the Royal Hospital, received an 8% differential to be applied to the grade over and above the non-nursing group one rate, with appropriate retrospection. A new job description was established that benefited the more involved role of this grade. However, the 16% Travel Allowance was not awarded to those hospitals within the group that were not in receipt of it.
6. The Royal Hospital is an extended care hospital. It is not and a training hospital and has not, therefore, a complement of pre-qualification Student Nurses. For approximately thirty years a grade known as Attendant has existed within the structure of the hospital. Their roster, as a consequence of a productivity agreement negotiated many years ago, requires that a specified number of their working hours are performed at the weekends for which overtime rates are paid. In order that Management could engage non-nursing care staff and pay them at the rates approved by the Department of Health and Children, the pay and conditions of the Attendants were 'red-circled'.
Four workers graded Care Assistant, with similar duties to those of Attendant, were employed on temporary contracts from 25 June, 1990. A lengthy process of negotiation, including Labour Court intervention ensued and ultimately resulted in the 'red-circling' of the Attendant Grade (as referred to above) and with an assurance being given that the duty rosters of Care Assistants would benefit each Care Assistant with regard to weekend rosters and premium payments. Care Assistants continued to be employed from June 1990 in a temporary capacity until April, 1995 when permanent contracts were offered. During this five-year process a Travel Allowance was not sought for Care Assistants.
7. Household staffs have always worked a five over seven day roster and this roster forms part of the contract of employment. In response to requests from this grade, there are wholetime (39 hours), slightly less than wholetime (34 hours), job sharing (19.5 hours) and minimum working hours (8 hours) contracts available to Household Staff on a five over seven day roster.
The Court having considered the written and oral submissions made by the parties, is satisfied that the structure, background and working practice of this hospital have evolved in a different way to the other hospitals quoted. Given this situation the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
However the Court is concerned at the number of disputes , such as this one, arising in individual hospitals. The Court would strongly recommend that a central mechanism be put in place to ensure consistency and co-ordination in the personnel isues that have cross hospital implications.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th June, 2000.______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.