INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
SOUTHERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Keogh
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioners Recommendation IR957402/02/MR
2. The worker was employed as a Principal Grade Biochemist in the Cork Regional Hospital from 1981 to 1999, when he retired. There are four biochemist grades - from junior to senior - as follows :- Basic, Senior, Principal and Top Grade/Consultant. The qualification necessary for the Principal Grade is M.Sc. and for the Top Grade it is Ph.D. The worker's claim is that since he started employment in 1981 he held both qualifications and was thus qualified for the Top Grade position. He claims that he became aware some years ago that a number of Principal Biochemists in other Health Authorities with similar qualifications to himself had been paid an allowance (backdated) for the extra qualification, and he believes that he should also receive such an allowance. The Board's view is that the allowance is only paid to the Basic and Senior grade for specific qualifications.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner who issued a recommendation on the 27th January, 2003. In his findings, the Rights Commissioner questioned whether he had jurisdiction to hear the case and whether it was reasonable for the worker to seek payment after he had retired. He also stated that the official pay scales given to him by the Board stated that the allowance is "payable only to basic and senior grades. His recommendation was as follows :-
"I therefore recommend that the worker should accept that his claim fails ".
( The worker was named in the above recommendation.)
The worker appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 4th March, 2003, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st May, 2003, in Cork.
WORKER'S ARGUMENTS :
2. 1. The worker is aware of 5 other people who have been getting the allowance because of the extra qualifications. (details supplied to the Court ).
2. The worker only became aware of the situation 2 years ago.
3. The document showing that the allowance is paid to Basic and Senior grades does not specifically mention that the Principal grade is excluded.
BOARD'S ARGUMENTS :
3. 1. The allowance is only payable to the Basic and Senior grades for specific qualifications.
2. It has not been possible to ascertain under what circumstances the allowance was paid to other Principal Biochemists.
3. The Board has contacted the Health Service Employers' Agency on this issue and has been advised that the position of the Board is correct.
The Court has considered the oral and written submissions of both parties. At the hearing, no evidence was produced to confirm that the allowance claimed was in fact being paid to Principal Biochemists Grades employed by other Health Authorities. Neither was there any evidence produced to indicate the reasons for or the circumstances under which any payments were made or even the amounts involved.
The Court, therefore, can find no reason to vary the decision of the Rights Commissioner. Accordingly, the Court upholds the Rights Commissioner's recommendation and the appeal is disallowed.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
5th June, 2003______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.