INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Introduction of a job-sharing scheme
2. The Union's claim, on behalf of approximately 70 Administrative and Clerical staff, is for the introduction of a job- sharing scheme and policy in the Company. The Company Union agreement, concluded in 1997 does not contain a specific clause relating to job-sharing. The Company agreed in 1999 to carry out an assessment on the possibility of implementing a job-sharing scheme. Having completed the study the Company decided against the introduction of such a scheme on the grounds of its feasibility and the cost involved. This was not acceptable to the Union. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 7th June, 2001. Agreement was not reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court by the Labour Relations Commission on the 14th June, 2001. The dispute was received in the Court on the 14th June, 2001. A Court hearing was held on the 15th August, 2001.
3. 1. An understanding was reached on the introduction of job-sharing under the aegis of the 1997 agreement. Management carried out the agreed study and , having presented the proposed scheme, sought and secured the Union's broad endoresement The Company then refused to proceed further. This is evidence of bad industrial relations.
2. The Union is conscious of the difficulties which can arise in the implementation of job sharing .However the Union believes that there are functions or departments within the organisation which are typical of other organisations where job sharing works very well i.e. Finance, IT, Operations and HR as areas where jobs could
3. The Union agreed to the introduction of a scheme on a pilot basis, for a limited period, with the final decision on a job share to rest with Management.
4. Job sharing schemes are now part of every day working life and are operated successfully by many organisations in the private and public sectors. The Union is not seeking something which is new, groundbreaking or unworkable.
5. Under Framework 1, Annex IV of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) the Social Partners" are committed to the development of family friendlyworkplaces and will encourage and support the development of such workplaces in every practical way". Job sharing is an example of a family-friendly practice
for discussion at enterprise level by agreement between employers and unions. The Union's effort to to implement the objectives of the PPF at local enterprise level, by agreement, with upfront safeguards for the employer, has been met with rejection.
4. 1. The Company has concluded an assessment of the effects of introducing job-sharing and has determined that it is not a viable option given the very limited scope for its application and the excessive cost involved.
2. The Company has already implemented other policies to give staff more flexible working hours such as flexi-time and career breaks. The Company provides annual leave entitlements above the statutory minimum.
3. The introduction of a job-sharing scheme would have a serious negative impact on operational effectiveness due to the need for greater supervision, hand over of work between job sharers and the impact of lack of continuity of service to customers.
4. There is very limited scope for the introduction of such an arrangement in any one work area within the Company as the number of jobs lending themselves to such arrangements is minimal and would not provide management with any tangible benefit.
5. The Company has no difficulty in attracting or recruiting staff. This must be viewed as owing in part to the already flexible working hours system and other generous leave entitlements.
The Court has given consideration to all aspects of this claim. The Court is conscious of the PPF's initiative to encourage companies to develop Family Friendly Policies including the introduction of job sharing schemes. In this context and having regard to the small number of employees who have expressed an interest in such schemes, the Court recommends that the company should identify possible jobs which could be suitable for job sharing, and a pilot scheme should be introduced on a trial basis and reviewed after not less than six months of operation.
The scheme should be limited to specific jobs. An agreed policy should be completed specifying the conditions of the scheme taking into account the business needs of the company. At the end of the trial period a review of its operation should be carried out and the Court recommends that the company should have the final decision on its continuance or otherwise.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.