INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
ST MICHAELS CHILDCARE CENTRE
(REPRESENTED BY SOUTH EASTERN HEALTH BOARD)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr. Somers
1. Annual leave.
2. St. Michael's Childcare Centre was initially administered by the Sisters of Mercy. Following a transfer of undertaking in January, 2003, the Centre transferred to the direct control of the Health Board. The Centre looks after children with behavioural difficulties.
Discussions had began on the transferin 1999 and a number of issues were covered. Staff were issued with draft job descriptions which included an indication that 28/29 days' annual leave would apply to the Childcare Staff.
In April, 2001, the Board was notified by the Department of Health and Children that an agreement had been reached between the Health Service Employers Agency and IMPACT trade union regarding Assistant House Parents and House Parents, - now to be designated as Child Care Workers and Child Care Leaders respectively. This resulted in Child Care Workers receiving annual leave of 22-25 days, and Child Care Leaders receiving 23-26 days depending on the amount of service completed.
The Union's case is that it believes that annual leave of 28/29 days for Child Care Workers and 29 days for Child Care Leaders, which had initially been proposed, should apply to the workers concerned.
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 30th of January, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14th of September, 2004, in Waterford, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The workers believed that a commitment was given to them that annual leave would be 28/29 days per annum. This was confirmed in a draft copy of terms and conditions made available to them in 2002. It was not until they were issued with new contracts in 2003 that they discovered that the maximum leave would be 25/26 days per annum.
4. 1. Whilst the early draft job description did make reference to 28/29 days annual leave, the Board was informed in December, 2001, that annual leave had to be standardised for the grades concerned. Some employees who already had superior leave arrangements retained these on a "red circle" basis.
2. Staff who transferred to the Board have greatly benefited from the transfer, e.g. significantly enhanced sick pay scheme and occupational health services.
3. Staff were notified with regard to the annual leave situation. They were involved in discussions with management in 2000/2001.
Whilst the initial communication to employees in relation to the annual leave applicable after the transfer may have created some expectation, this was never formally incorporated in their conditions of employment.
Matters was subsequently overtaken by the conclusion of the national agreement on the harmonisation of annual leave for childcare workers. In the circumstances, the Health Board acted correctly in applying the terms of the new agreement to the claimants. Accordingly, the Court does not recommend concession of the Union's claim.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
28th September, 2004______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.