INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
NORTHERN AREA HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
PSYCHIATRIC NURSES' ASSOCIATION OF IRELAND
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's recommendation IR1942/00/CW.
2. The worker concerned is employed by the Health Board as a registered psychiatric nurse. The dispute concerns the Union's claim on behalf of the worker for lost premium payments, re-imbursement of medical expenses and that his absence should be disregarded for the purposes of the sick leave scheme. The appellant was injured in the course of his work and made the claim based firstly on the national agreement on escorting patients made in 1993 and, subsequently, on a 1984 local agreement. The Board rejected the claim.
The dispute was referred to the Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On the 19th February, 2001, the Rights Commissioner recommended as follows:-
"I recommend that (the worker) accepts the boards position in this dispute."
(The worker was named in the Rights Commissioner's recommendation).
On the 27th February, 2001, the Union appealed the Rights Commissioner's recommendation to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 13 (9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and the Court heard the appeal on the 1st June 2001.
3. 1. The Branch entered into agreement in good faith and accepted the bona fides of those representing the Eastern Health Board at the time.
2. The fact that the current officials of the Board profess no knowledge of an agreement effected by their predecessors cannot negate the agreement.
3. If the 1984 agreement is no longer in situ this effectively means that there is no agreement between employers and the unions on the provision of escorts.
4. External trips form an integral part of the service at the hospital and a number of them take place on a daily basis.
4. 1 The only scheme available, which allows for the payment of premium payments while on sick leave, is for staff absent from work as a result of a serious physical assault incurred in the course of his/her duty.
2. As the worker's absence on sick leave was not as a result of a serious physical assault, Management is unable to accede to his request for the payment of premium payments during this period of sick leave.
3. The full provisions of the Board's sick pay scheme was paid to the worker.
4. Payment of premium pay in this instance would set a precedent in the Board and nationally.
The Court accepts that the agreement in escort duty concluded between the parties in 1984/5 is a valid subsisting agreement. However the Court cannot accept that clause 5 of that agreement can reasonably be interpreted in the manner contended for by the Union. The 1993 agreement provides the only mechanism by which premium rates can be paid to a nurse while on sick leave. As that agreement is not relevant in the Court cannot support the Union's claim.
Accordingly the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner is upheld.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th June, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Helena McDermott, Court Secretary.