INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
MOUNT CARMEL HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Time off for hospital appointments.
2. The dispute concerns a Union claim for time off for medical appointments for staff in the laundry and catering department in the Hospital. Mount Carmel is a private hospital which receives no funding from the Department of Health. It is funded by the patients fees and the VHI.
The Union claims that it has been long-standing practice for the staff involved to produce appointment cards when seeking time off for hospital visits. In June 2000, a staff member was told that he/she would have to take one day's leave to cover a hospital visit. Having written to management, the Union was informed that such days had never been authorised leave days and would have to be taken as annual leave or unpaid leave. Management also stated that it was not aware that the practice had existed for years.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place on the 26th of March, 2001. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 25th of April, 2001, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 13th of June, 2001.
3. 1. The practice of taking time off for hospital appointments has been long standing, and it is unacceptable for management to change it without negotiation.
2. At the conciliation conference, the Union was prepared to have the workers have their hospital cards stamped at the time of leaving the hospital to ensure that no extra time was taken. The offer was rejected.
3. People often have to travel long distances to hospitals and can be left waiting for hours, especially if tests are required. It is unfair that people should have to use holiday leave in such cases. This would particularly apply to people requiring regular hospital visits.
4. 1. The Hospital was unaware of the practice and would not have allowed it. It is a retrograde practice which is a cost to the Hospital. The claim itself is cost increasing under the P.P.F.
2. The practice does not, and did not, exist in any other area of the Hospital. If the claim is conceded, it would have major knock-on implication throughout the Hospital.
3. The staff concerned work a 5/7 day roster. As such, they can organise a swap on the roster and work up time to attend hospital appointments.
The Court has considered the oral and written submissions of the parties. Due to the custom and practice in the past of allowing employees time off to attend hospital appointments, the Court recommends that the parties should meet to regularise the practice, based on the experiences of both sides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
26th June, 2001______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.