INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Introduction of a dual fortnightly and monthly pay system.
2. The Company is a UK-owned retail outlet which has been trading in Dublin city since 1996, employing a staff of approximately 250, 60% of whom are part-time, and all of whom are paid monthly. The dispute concerns a claim by the Union, which represents in the region of 30% of the staff, for the introduction of a dual fortnightly/monthly pay system. The Union's claim is on the grounds that there is considerable dissatisfaction amongst staff with the current system. ( A Company/Union survey of all staff, to which there was a response of approximately 50%, indicated that around 80% of the respondents were in favour of a dual system, the remainder wishing to retain the monthly system). The Company opposes the claim, in the main, due to the considerable costs involved in changeover from the current system. Additionally, the Company states, monthly pay is a component of the terms and conditions for all staff, on commencement.
The dispute was the subject of 3 conciliation conferences, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, following which agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court, on the 28th February, 2000, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court carried out its investigation on the 4th May, 2000.
3. 1. It should be recognised that the introduction of fortnightly pay would be hugely beneficial to the staff in question, who are relatively low-paid. In the retail trade in general, the norm is for staff to be paid weekly, and in the Civil Service most clerical and hourly paid employees are paid weekly, with middle management being paid fortnightly and only senior management being paid monthly.
2. The survey carried out shows overwhelming support for the introduction of fortnightly pay. Furthermore, the introduction of fortnightly pay would lead to the reduction of ongoing payroll problems (details supplied to the Court).
3. The Union considers that the cost of the changes sought, as stated by the Company, are exaggerated. The positive implications of a fortnightly pay-system far outweigh the costs that would be incurred in its implementation.
4. 1. There are very significant cost-implications associated with the introduction of a dual payroll system, including the direct set up costs, along with the ongoing cost of operating a dual system, in addition to the current cost of operating the monthly system (details supplied to the Court).
2. There would be knock-on costs as payroll is not an isolated function in that it feeds into a multiplicity of other operational systems, including financial accounting systems, profit & loss statements, etc. There is also a disproportionate cost associated with a dual payroll system, as the Company operates a monthly system throughout its 90 UK stores and a different system in one store would be inconsistent with the business as a whole.
3. Monthly pay has existed as an agreed term and condition of employment from the outset, accepted by all staff on recruitment. As in the past, the Company will, in the future, make temporary adjustments to payroll, where individuals so require.
4. Being a cost-increasing claim, it is precluded under the terms of Section 11 of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness, as it was previously under Partnership 2000.
The Court has considered the written and oral presentations made by the Union and the Company. Both sides accept that an agreement was freely entered into, in 1998, which outlined the frequency of payment as being on a monthly basis. The Court considers that this agreement has a clear meaning and must be adhered to by both sides.
However, the Court recommends that, while preserving the intent of the agreement, the Company should examine ways of ameliorating the difficulties, as outlined to the Court, which are encountered by a significant number of employees, especially those on part-time work.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
30th May, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Michael Keegan, Court Secretary.