INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
BORD NA MONA
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR15198/03/LM.
2. In March, 1998, a team-based system was set up in the stores at the Derrygreenaugh works. The team consisted of four people. The payment system is made up of the individual's basis pay, an overscale allowance, and a team performance related payment paid on a quarterly basis. One of the four workers went on maternity leave from the 9th of March, 2000, to the 14th of July, 2000. The worker was not paid her bonus - worth €1,027 - as Management proposed paying her share to her three colleagues for covering her work while she was absent. The Union referred her case to a Rights Commissioner who recommended that she be paid the €1,027 bonus. Following this, the Union again sought payment of the bonus to the other 3 workers.
This case was also referred to a Rights Commissioner and her recommendation was as follows:
"The Company is to pay the three claimants the additional payment for providing cover for maternity leave. Discussions to take place at an early date between the parties with a view to addressing similar circumstances which are not provided for under the current agreement."
The Company appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 10th of December, 2003, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 29th of January, 2004, in Newbridge.
3. 1. There is a total, finite bonus payment available for the year for the four people in the team. This amount has been paid equally to each team member. The Company has no further obligation in respect of bonus payments. It is unfair that the Company should have to pay performance bonus on the double.
4. 1. Management accepts that members who cover for maternity leave should receive the scheme bonuses of their absent colleague. Therefore, once the Company agreed to maternity pay under the Company/Union agreement it agreed to pay twice, and in practice has been doing so ever since.
It is noted that under the Company/Union agreement employees are entitled to full pay while on maternity leave. In these circumstances, there is no basis, either in equity or on equality grounds, on which the bonus at issue could be withheld for the period of maternity leave. The Court is also of the view that where an employee is replaced whilst on maternity leave, her replacement is entitled to the remuneration applicable to the job, including the bonus.
In the Court's view, the Rights Commissioner's recommendation that the disputed amount be paid to the claimants and that the parties discuss a suitable amendment to the current agreement to cover similar situations in the future is reasonable. In that regard, it is the Court's view that where an employee is absent on maternity leave and is replaced, the formula for the calculation of the bonus should take account of the replacement, weighted by the duration of their employment in the team. The detailed adjustment to the current agreement necessary to give effect to this principle should be agreed between the parties.
On this basis, the recommendation of the Rights Commissioner is upheld.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
13th February, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.