INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2001
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
ABS PUMPS LIMITED
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation IR14540/03/TB.
2. The Union's claim relates to the level of paid release and subsistence support for the worker who is the safety representative in the Company. The Union believes that other groups receive more favourable support. The worker in question sought to qualify for the NUI certificate course in Waterford. The course was for 26 weeks every Friday from 9.00 a.m. to 11.00 a.m. As the worker was on shift duty, he did the course every second week on his own time and was back at work for the 2.00 p.m. shift. The Company paid for the course and necessary books but did not pay for travel or time involved.
The Company's case is that where training needs are identified and required, full sponsorship, including time off work, is provided. Where an employee personally requests to undertake a training course (as in this case) the Company will look at each application on a personal basis. In June, 2002, the worker requested the Company to sponsor him to undertake a course entitled "Certificate in Safety & Health at Work". The Company allowed the worker to re-schedule 4 hours every 2 weeks to attend the classes but he choose not to do so and attended on his own time.
The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner and his recommendation is as follows:-
"The claimant is to be commended for seeking out and undertaking this course. In my view he has been treated fairly by the Company, who, on the basis of the submissions, give great priority to training.
I do not recommend in favour of the Union claim."
The Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on 25th of September, 2003, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 25th of February, 2004, in Wexford.
3. 1. The level of paid training provided to the worker is not equal to that provided for front line supervisors. The Company does not seem to regard the role of safety officer as a responsible post.
2. The worker suffered a loss of earnings due to attending the training course as he was not paid travelling expenses and took time off at his own expense.
4. 1. The Company paid the cost of the training course (€1,150) and allowed the worker to re-schedule his hours to suit his shift work. He choose not to do so and is now seeking to be compensated more than other employees.
2. The worker has been provided with adequate training above and beyond the statutory requirement. The Company has paid for him to attend a number of training courses. If this claim were conceded it could lead to a number of knock-on claims from other employees.
The Court has considered the submissions of both parties to the appeal. The Court is satisfied that all training needs identified and required by the Company are fully sponsored in terms of paid time off, tuition fees, books etc. The Court considers it reasonable that the Company, having identified these needs, is selective with regard to their policy on sponsorship for courses personally selected by employees over and above those identified and required.
In the case of the course personally selected by the appellant, an agreement was entered into prior to undertaking the course that the Company would pay for the tuition fees and books, and that his hours of work could be rescheduled to facilitate his attendance at the course without loss of pay. He declined to reschedule his hours.
The Court is satisfied that if a team leader had similarly selected to attend a course which was not identified or required by the Company he/she would have been treated in the same manner.
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
16th March, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.