INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
CIVIL & PUBLIC SERVICE UNION (CPSU)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. New staff structure.
2. The Company put forward a new "Career Performance and Reward Framework" for its Information Technology (I.T.) employees represented by the AHCPS, PSEU and CPSU. This model was formulated by Hay Management Consultants. The Company claims that during the 1990's it had found it difficult to attract and retain I.T. staff. The Company states that by 1999 existing pay structures, which consisted of civil service style incremental scales with no performance related or bonus provisions were out of step with best practice among I.T. employers generally. Also, there was no systematic appraisal or development for employees in I.T. The Company introduced a bonus system during the Y2K period. This was a temporary solution to its retention problem.
The new system grouped jobs into two areas, (1) Business Application Development and support and (2) Technical Infrastructure Development and Business support. Within these groupings there are four job levels : Level 1: Management/Expert Technical; Level 2: First level Management/Lead Professional; Level 3: Professional Technical; Level 4: Technical first level support. The employees represented by the CPSU in this claim (Clerical Officers) would have been at level 4 in the new system. The new system was discussed with the Unions concerned. Agreement was reached with the AHCPS and PSEU but was rejected by the CPSU.
The Union states that it welcomed the proposal in principle and saw it as an opportunity to enhance the reward package of clerical staff in the I.T. function. However, it does not regard the individualisation of salary and performance bonus as appropriate at clerical level and have requested that the reward model be reshaped to provide structured incremental progression and a team based performance bonus.
As no agreement was possible between the parties the dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. A conciliation conference was held on the 8th November, 2001 but no agreement was reached. The dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 21st May, 2002 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 22nd August, 2002.
3. 1. The Union is prepared to be flexible in its approach to the new Reward Model for I.T staff. However, the Company's "take it or leave it" stance is not acceptable.
2.There should be a seven point incremental scale for the I.T. staff concerned and implemented from the 1st March, 2001.
3. A performance bonus of 15% should apply to all I.T. staff employed by the Company. Also, a team rather than an individual bonus system should operate according to agreed performance targets and objectives.
4. The Union is also looking for a 5% lead-in bonus payment for its members who participate in the proposed new pay scheme.
4. 1. The scheme was designed to reflect the terms and conditions that are typically available for comparable jobs elsewhere, and to provide a direct link between individual performance and reward.
2. Group bonus schemes, as proposed by the Union, tend to result in underperformers being rewarded with bonus payments while the better performers get a lower level of reward.
3. The Company has not sought to impose any change in terms and conditions at C.O. level but has allowed the status quo to remain for these employees.
4. The AHCPS and the PSEU have adopted the new scheme and it is working satisfactorily for the employees represented by those Unions.
5. The Company proposes to review the pay of clerical staff in line with a general review of clerical pay throughout the Company.
Following temporary arrangements to retain its IT staff during the Y2K period, An Post commissioned Hay Management Consultants to develop market based pay levels and bands for these staff. Hay Consultants recommended the adoption of a new Career Performance and Reward Framework for IT staff. The consultants identified that this was the basis for reward and pay levels generally used for IT staff in the wider marketplace.
As a result, the Company made proposals to staff incorporating a new system of individualised performance related pay movement within defined bands, and an annual bonus based on achievement against agreed annual targets. Similar arrangements have been accepted and put in place since 6th April, 2001, for the other IT groups in the Company.
The Union welcomed the proposal in principle. However , it wished to retain the concept of an incremental salary scale and subsequently put forward proposals on a new structured incremental progression and a team based performance bonus, while indicating that it would accept more rigorous individual assessment procedures for movement along such incremental scale.
The Court notes that the option would remain available to individuals to retain the existing pay arrangement, which itself is the subject of imminent review proposals. Having considered the written and oral submissions of the parties, the Court also considers that there should not be any insuperable difficulties in overcoming the causes of the uncertainties/ fears / misunderstandings among the staff on a number of areas contained in the proposals.
The Court recommends that the Union should accept the basic principles of the Company's proposal to revise the pay arrangements of IT staff employed at CO level. This includes the concept of individual movement each year within a salary band, and an individual bonus based on performance relative to agreed targets. However, the Court recommends that further discussion should take place between the parties on the other issues that the Union members perceive as creating difficulties.
The Court identifies these matters as:
- Potential loss for existing Helpdesk and IT Technician staff by virtue of the proposed lower band ceiling as against the present maximum incremental point.
- Targets under the Performance Bonus - clarify the extent that overall team performance will be considered as against individual performance .
- The circumstances in which an individual could fail to advance by even the level of national agreement or similar national awards.
- Potential Career Progression under the new Proposals
- Effect on new bands of movements in the national awards or any upward review of the existing incremental clerical pay scheme
The Court recommends that these discussions should commence without delay and should be completed within a month.
The Court is of the view that it would be unrealistic to recommend a retrospective payment in the case of performance related pay increases and bonuses. However, due to the length of time involved in bringing these matters to conclusion for this group, the Court recommends that, when accepted, the lead-in payment should be 10% of basic pay for those opting to transfer to the new proposals.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
29th August, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.