INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
HSE NORTH WEST AREA
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH NURSES ORGANISATION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioner's Recommendation Ir21366/04/Tb.
2. The worker is a Public Health Nurse who transferred to Donegal Town Health Centre in 2001. In 2002, an issue arose in relation to storage in the Centre. The Union's case is that the worker and a colleague attempted to address the issue but it eventually took the intervention of the General Manager to sort it out. (The HSE's case is that the worker wrote to the Director of Nursing at the Hospital requesting that a porter should deal with the situation. The HSE maintains that it was not her place to do so and that a letter of apology was sent to the Director of Nursing.) On the 3rd of September, 2003, the worker was called to a meeting without notice or knowledge of the agenda. Her line manager was present plus a secretary who took minutes of the meeting. The worker's specific claim is as follows:-
- The worker was not afforded the principles of natural justice and respect accordant with her professional status at a meeting with her manager of 3rd September, 2003. The meeting was intimidatory in content, structure and tone, leading the worker to conclude that it was designed to be disciplinary in nature.
- Management subsequently failed to either recognise or address such treatment,
- That her employer failed to investigate the worker's grievance in line with their own policy, either with due diligence or within a reasonable time frame.
- The worker continued to endure unfair treatment and harassment in her workplace.
The worker lodged a grievance with the Director of Public Health Nursing. A meeting took place but the worker was unhappy with the outcome and appealed it through the grievance procedure to the Office of the CEO. A meeting took place but, as this proved unsatisfactory to the worker, the issue was referred to a Rights Commissioner. His recommendation was as follows:-
"The respondent should take steps to ensure that the difficulties between the claimant and her supervisor are sorted out in a fair and reasonable manner and the claimant should acknowledge that she is subject to the authority of her management.
I recommend that she be paid €1,000 in compensation".
The HSE appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court on the 4th of May, 2005, in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14th of October, 2005, in Donegal, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1. The meeting on the 3rd of September, 2003, took place because the worker and her colleague continued to write to Community Service Management despite being advised to go through their own line management.
2. The meeting was also to advise on the HSE's grievance procedure in view of a letter that the two workers had sent to the Directors of Human Resources on the 20th of March, 2003.
3. There is no basis for compensation as management acted correctly in regard to procedure in relation to the meeting of 3rd September, 2003.
4. 1. Despite protestations by management that the meeting of the 3rd of September was open and pleasant it was necessarily disciplinary in nature. Subsequent events compounded the worker's sense of grievance.
2. The employer failed in its duty to provide a judicious and timely investigation of the events through the grievance procedure.
3. The worker is a professional nurse of thirty years' standing with an unblemished record. She has suffered unnecessary stress and pressure as a result of the meeting of 3rd of September and subsequent events.
The Court has given careful consideration to the submissions of the parties to this appeal.
The Court can see no basis upon which it could disagree with the conclusions and recommendation of the Rights Commissioner.
Accordingly, the Court affirms the Recommendation and the appeal is disallowed.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th November, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.