INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
DEPT. OF HEALTH & CHILDREN
(REPRESENTED BY HEALTH SERVICE EMPLOYERS' AGENCY - HSEA)
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Carberry
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Deal agreed - Circular39/2001of 2nd April, 2001 .
2. Until 2001, the grades of Houseparent, Assistant Houseparent and Trainee Houseparent constituted a pay category in their own right. In April, 2001, the Department of Health and Children issued Circular 39/2001 which introduced a new pay and grading structure. As a result, the three grades were to be known as Child Care Leader, Child Care Worker and Trainee Child Care Worker respectively. In regard to qualifications, all future entrants to the profession of Child Care Worker and Child Care Leader grade would be required to hold a recognised qualification. A number of Assistant Houseparents who had undertaken the Diploma in Child Care but had not transferred to the Houseparent salary scale would transfer to the Child Care Leader scale as a once - off measure. The main issues in dispute are as follows:-
a) Application of 'red circled' arrangements to staff holding qualifications other than the core professional social care qualifications.
- b) Date of application of new arrangements
c) Application of 'red circled' arrangements to staff in temporary/relief employment.
d) Claim for retention of 'red circling' arrangements if and when staff moved to other work locations
e) Assimilation of House parents onto Social Care Leader scale.
Briefly, the position of the parties in relation to the 5 points is as follows:-
(a) The Union is seeking that qualifications which allowed progression beyond the qualification barrier point on the Assistant House parent scale should be acceptable.
(b) The operative date for red circling was the 31st of December, 2001. The Union believes that a date reflecting the end of the education cycle underway at the time would have been fairer.
(c) The Union is seeking that the decision to exclude temporary staff should be revised.
(d) The employer is against the retention of the red-circling arrangements if staff move, claiming that it would cause major recruitment and funding difficulties.
(e) Assimilation was on the basis of the top point of the scale as Houseparent (10 point scale) to top point of the scale as Child Care Leader (7 point scale) and downwards. The Union is seeking assimilation on corresponding points i.e. first, second, third etc. points on old scale to first, second, third etc. points on new scale.
The Union referred a number of other points to the Court, including trainees, reporting relationships - disability sector, pay/grading anomalies etc.
The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 10th of May, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th of December, 2004, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. Circular 39/2001 provided for upgrading on a 'red circled' basis for those Assistant Houseparents who possessed a qualification. This has been very narrowly interpreted by the employer.
2. The employer unilaterally restricted the application of the 'red-circling' arrangement to permanent staff. There was no such distinction in the Circular / agreement. Some staff have never had the opportunity to obtain permanency. The numbers involved in the claim are small.
3. The employer, again without consultation, introduced an operative date of 31st December, 2000, for the 'red circling' provision. This excluded anyone in the course of obtaining a qualification from benefiting.
4. Circular 39/2001 is explicit in terms of movement from old scales to new scales. This is to be by corresponding points i.e. first point of old scale to first point of new scale.
4. 1. Circular 39/2001 specifically states that the 'red circling' arrangements would apply to those holding the Diploma in Child Care. The report of Joint Committee also identifies the Diploma in Social Care as being the other core professional qualification for Social Care Workers.
2. The HSEA applied the 'red circling' deal to those holding relevant qualifications on the 31st of December, 2000. The pay scales contained in Circular 39/2001 applied with effect from 1st of January, 2001. Management believes that this was the appropriate way to apply the deal. The new arrangements provided for major pay increases for Child Care Workers and Child Care Leaders.
3. The Union is seeking to have staff who were providing cover for such short term occurrences as sick leave, parental leave or maternity leave placed on the salary scale of Child Care Leader, despite the fact that they had not obtained a permanent post of Child Care Worker.
4. The Department applied assimilation as advised by the HSEA. As part of this arrangement, all relevant staff continue to retain their existing incremental scale in accordance with same.
In relation to the residual matters brought before the Court, the parties are effectively asking the Court to determine what they themselves allegedly previously agreed. This the Court would prefer not to do. The Court agrees with the parties that finality needs to be brought on these issues, but feels that the most sensible way of achieving this is by further direct engagement between the Union and Management, given that the matter has been in process since 2001.
As the primary participants, it would be better if the parties can agree compromises on the issues in question, with the assistance of the IRO, if necessary.
If no resolution can be achieved by 28th February, 2005, the parties may bring any matters still unresolved back to the Court, which will then recommend solutions to the parties.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
17th December, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.