INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
BANK OF IRELAND
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BANK OFFICIALS' ASSOCIATION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Dispute over claim for (a) Career break; (b) Claim for backdating of pension to start of career; (c) Claim for payment of bonus due.
2. The Union is in dispute with the Bank over its rejection of an application on behalf of its member for (a) Career break; (b) Backdating of her pension to the start of her career and (c) the non-payment of bonus for year June, 2001 to May, 2002.
The Union claims that the worker was offered a management position with Guinness UDV. It states that the worker approached management for a two year career break to work for this company in order to gain valuable experience and to bring that experience back with her to the Bank when the career break was over.
Management rejected the application for a career break.
The Union states that the reason the worker sought a career break was to protect her pre- 1991 Accrued Pension.
Management rejected the Union's claim and stated that the claimant left the Bank's employment on the 1st March, 2002. It claims that no provision exists either under legislation or within the rules of the Bank's pension scheme to protect pre-1991 pension contributions/accruals where an employee leaves their employment in advance of normal retirement age.
The Union states that the worker is entitled to a pro-rata bonus payment based on her work for the Bank up to the 1st March, 2002.
Management rejects the claim. It states that the worker was not an employee of the Bank at the time the bonuses were paid.
3. 1. The worker should have been allowed to take a career break.She would have brought back enhanced skills to her work at the Bank.
2. Management refused the claimant access to the Bank's Grievance Procedures.
3. Other staff in the Bank were granted career breaks.
4. 1. The claimant informed management that she had accepted a position with Guinness UDV and that she was leaving the Bank.
2. The worker had verbally resigned her position with the Bank.
3. The Bank would not be in a position to run its business if every employee wished to " try a job elsewhere" but keep their job with the Bank open for a period of up to three years.
5. 1. The reason the worker sought a two year career break was to protect her pre-1991 pension entitlements.
2. The worker could have applied for a voluntary severance/ early retirement package but chose not to do so, as she wanted the option of returning to the
6. 1. The worker made a decision to leave the Bank irrespective of the effect on her pension.
2. There were no provisions either under the Bank of Ireland Staff Pensions Fund or under legislation to grant pre-1991 preserved pension. The claimant, therefore, had no entitlement to transfer or preserve pension accruals prior to 1991.
7. 1. The worker is entitled to a pro-rata bonus for the time she worked for the Bank.
2. Her manager had indicated on a number of occasions that a bonus would accrue to her on a pro-rata basis for the time she worked.
3. Other staff received bonus payments in June, 2001 but not the claimant.
8. 1. It is neither the custom nor practice at Bank of Ireland to pay bonuses to individuals other than employees of the Group at the time bonuses become payable.
2. Under the worker's contract of employment , eligibility for a retrospective bonus payment only arises in June of each year. The worker was not an employee of the Bank in June, 2002, and therefore was not entitled to a bonus payment.
Having considered the submissions of the parties the Court recommends as follows:-
1.There is no general right to a career break either in a collective agreement applicable to the claimant or in her personal conditions of employment. For this reason the Court does not recommend that her claim for a career break be conceded.
2.The Bank's letter to the claimant dated 8th March 2002 made it clear that her absence from work was regarded as confirmation of her verbal notice of resignation. The claimant did not demur from this conclusion. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the claimant accept that her resignation took effect from 1st March, 2002.
3.The Court believes that any concession to the claimant in terms of the effective date from which pre 1991 service would be preserved for pension purposes could not be contained and would have serious repercussive effects. Whilst the Court has sympathy for the position in which the claimant finds herself, for the reasons referred to, the Court cannot recommend concession of her claim.
The Court does recommend that should the claimant resume employment with the bank in the future or if there is a general change in the treatment pre 1991 service in respect of those who left the Bank prior to the 13th April, 2002, the claimant's position should be considered.
4.The Court has considered the claim for payment of the performance related cash bonus in the context of the agreement recited in the claimant's letter of appointment dated 2nd May, 2000. The Court notes that there is no express term requiring the claimant to be in the employment of the Bank on the date on which payment is due. The Court considers that in the interest of fairness any doubt concerning the existence of an implied term to that effect should be resolved in the claimant's favour.
Accordingly, the Court recommends that the Union's claim for a pro-rata bonus payment should be conceded.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
14th November, 2002______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Larry Wisely, Court Secretary.