INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY THE IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Pierce
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Annual leave.
2. The Union represents approximately 3,000 employees, from a total of 17,500 employed in the industry. The Union is seeking 4 additional annual leave days for employees who work five over seven days, and one additional day for employees who work Monday to Friday. The Union states that, prior to the introduction of the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, which increased the legal annual leave entitlement from 15 to 20 days, the workers concerned had negotiated additional annual leave and were in receipt of 19 days and 20 days respectively plus public holidays.
The Union is seeking the restoration of this differential.
The issue was not resolved at local level and was the subject of a conciliation conference on the 1st of May, 2001, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. Again, agreement was not possible and the issue was referred to the Labour Court on the 11th of May, 2001, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. The Court investigated the dispute on the 17th of January, 2002, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. During the course of two National Understandings the claimants negotiated an additional 4 and 5 days annual leave above the legal minimum. They should retain this differential in recognition of their contribution to the industry and to enhance their conditions of employment.
2. The Hotel Industry in Dublin city and county has expanded by 68.25% from 1996 to 2001. Hotels have had difficulty in both recruiting and retaining workers. However, one of the main attractions in the industry is the unique system in relation to annual leave, whereby public holiday entitlements form part of workers' annual leave.
3. Most of the hotels have been very profitable during the past number of years, while employees have been paid a very low basic rate of pay. The Union's claim is not cost-increasing, as the employees could take the additional annual leave during quiet periods when there would be no need to provide cover for their absences.
4. 1. The Union's claim is cost increasing in nature and, therefore, in breach of the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF). If conceded, it would have enormous implications for the sector and could jeopardise employment.
2. The industry is complying with its obligations under the Working Time Act. Employees who work public holidays receive an extra day's pay and an additional day off. This equates to triple time for those involved.
3. The 1982 Agreement makes reference to taking the four extra leave days at a time that was cost neutral for the hotels. Due to the dramatic change in the nature of business, this is no longer a viable option.
4. When the Working Time Act came into effect in 1997, in many circumstances, it legislated for what was at the time the current practice (i.e.19 days annual leave). While some employees got an increase of 5 days, many others received an increase of only 1 day.
5. The Union's contention that a differential exists is without support or evidence. The Labour Court, in LCR16503, stated that improvements in the statutory entitlement to annual leave did not provide a basis for a claim for additional leave for those already at or above the statutory provision.
It is clear that, historically, the annual leave entitlements of those associated with this claim have been in line with those of workers generally in comparable employments. That remains the position.
The claim now before the Court is based on the proposition that the increase in statutory leave entitlements effected by the Organisation of Working Time Act, 1997, should be reflected in the actual leave entitlement of the workers concerned (which is currently at or above the statutory minimum).
The Court cannot accept that proposition. Accordingly, it does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th January, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Dympna Greene, Court Secretary.