INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
WESTERN HEALTH BOARD
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Alleged bullying.
2. The dispute concerns a worker who is employed by the Western Health Board as a Clinical Nurse Specialist. The Union claims that the worker has been subjected to bullying by a Consultant and although the complaint was lodged in April, 2002 the issue has still not been brought to a conclusion by the Board. The Union sought to refer the dispute to a Rights Commissioner for investigation but the Board objected to such a referral. On the 26th November 2003, the Union submitted a complaint to the Labour Court under Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969 and agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation. A Court hearing was held in Galway on the 18th February, 2004.
3. 1. All anti bullying allegations should be investigated in a timely fashion. This has not been done and the Board must carry out an independent investigation of the allegation. The Board delayed formally investigating the complaint and never completed it.
2. As a result the Board is in breach of the claimant's contract of employment. She has lost trust and confidence in the Board. Her health has been adversely affected and she was on sick leave with work related stress for a long period.
3. The Union seeks that the Board should complete its investigation within a maximum time frame of 12 weeks. The Board should also furnish the claimant with an appropriate apology, acknowledge the mental distress, emotional anxiety and ill health suffered by the claimant. The claimant's wages should also be paid for the period she was on half pay (17th June, 2003 to 3rd November, 2003)and her sick leave entitlement should be restored. The Union considers that her leave should be considered special leave and not sick leave. The Union also seeks compensation of €50,000 for the Board's failure to investigate, after almost two years for distress, trauma and ill health encountered as a direct result, without prejudice to the outcome of the investigation.
4. 1. The investigation is under way and will be concluded. The allegation of bullying against the Consultant in Palliative Medicine must be investigated by the Board, as the Consultant's employer, under the Consultants' Common Contract. The Board has to be quite meticulous in applying the principles of fair procedures, due process and natural justice.
2. The Board accepts that the delay in dealing with the issue is unacceptable. The procedure is tedious and complex. The Board is endeavouring to deal with the matter as expeditiously as possible
The Court regards the delay in processing the claimant's complaints as wholly unreasonable and inexcusable. The Court recommends that the process be completed within two months from the date of this recommendation. Furthermore, in recognition of the special circumstances of this case, the claimant's absence from work arising from this matter should be treated as special leave with full pay and arrears of remuneration be paid accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
25th February, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.