INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY MR BRENDAN MCFEENEY)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr McHenry
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Claim by the worker that he was incorrectly paid for work carried out under the terms of a retirement scheme.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who took early retirement from the Company in November, 1997. The "Choices" early retirement scheme was offered on a voluntary basis to staff aged 55 - 59 and was available between October, 1997 and April, 1998. The scheme provided for an immediate pension and lump sum, other cash incentive payments, and the option of a total of 9 months temporary contract working for three months per year over three years. The worker availed of the three months return to work contract in 1998, 1999 and he finished the third term in April, 2000. The worker claimed that a pay increase of 2.5% under the terms of the Partnership 2000 Agreement, effective from 1st November, 1997 should have been paid to his salary when he returned to work. The Company rejected the claim stating that the claimant and all other eligible staff taking up the three months temporary work were fully briefed that the rate of pay appropriate to this work was determined by reference to the pensionable remuneration on retirement from the Company under the scheme. The worker sought to refer the issue to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. The Company objected to such a referral. On the 15th June, 2000, the worker referred the dispute to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held on the 13th September, 2000.
3. 1. The worker was employed by the Company up to the 10th November, 1997. The 2.5% increase was effective as of 1st November, 1997. This increase has been paid on the lump sum, bonus, pension, salary and holiday pay up to the 10th November, 1997.
2. The worker's salary as of 1st November, 1997 was £883.55 per fortnight which included the 2.5% increase and not £862.21 as the Company maintains.
3. As the return to work aspect is part of the whole package, it cannot be separated from the scheme and is, therefore, subject to the 2.5% increase.
4. The worker is legitimately entitled to have this increase paid on the return to work part. The remuneration for the three months per year work undertaken should be £883.55 per fortnight and not £862.
5. The Company gave a verbal commitment at a retirement course attended by the claimant, and many others, in October, 1997, that the increases due under the Partnership 2000 Agreement would be paid on the return to work aspect of the retirement scheme. The Company reiterated that Staff Associations and Unions within the Company would not condone or agree to a lower rate of pay being made to officers returning for three months under the "Retirement Scheme" and performing similar duties to those of current serving staff.
4. 1. The early retirement offer was voluntarily accepted by the worker and it provided generous benefits. Having availed of early retirement, the worker ceased his 42 year contract with the Company.
2. The periods of temporary contract working while a pensioner, and post full time employment were an option,voluntarily availed of, and not an obligation on the worker, and the rate of pay on commencement from the first period through the third period was that at the time of his retirement. No undertaking was provided to the worker that his rate of pay under temporary contract working would be increased.
3. The Company was not committed to any collective agreement to increase the rate of pay for any "Choices" returnees. The pay increases under the national agreements were applied to the worker's pension and lump sum. In addition, the increases resulted in a revision of two of the worker's additional retirement gratuities.
4. Awarding any increase to the worker for his period of temporary contract employment would have serious financial complications for the Company in light of the fact that there were over 400 similar "Choices" returnees. The cost to the Company is estimated at £350,000.
Having examined the written and oral submissions of both sides the Court has established that the rate of pay which applied to the" Choices Returnees" was determined by reference to "the pensionable remuneration on retirement". The Court is satisfied that as his pension increased retrospectively to take account of the increase due under Partnership 2000, that his pensionable salary at date of retirement is inclusive of this two and a half per cent increase.
Therfore the Court recommends concession of the claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
20 September, 2000______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.