INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Appeal of Rights Commissioners Recommendation IR22002/04/DI.
2. The appeal concerns a worker who is employed by Teagasc as a REPS (Rural Environment Protection Scheme) Planner. The REPS 's programme, which commenced in 1994 supports the Rural Environment. There are currently 120 contract and permanent REPS Planners employed nationwide. The role of the REPS Planner involves promotion and delivery of REPS services to clients including the preparation of agri-enviromnmental plans, supporting the implementation of these plans and delivering special REPS training courses. REPS Planners are required to be self financing and their targets are set in such a way as to achieve full cost recovery. The formula used in arriving at the cost to be recovered is calculated as follows:
Salary + PRSI (12.5%) + 40% of salary(Overheads) + Travel and Subsistence.
As a result, a REPS advisor's capacity to meet his or her targets successfully and to maintain and sustain their employment can be dependent on a range of factors including ,the number of clients, the size and type of farms, the location, the satisfactory attendance/availability for work and line management decisions. The worker's claim relates to a number of personal grievances which the Union claimed were brought to the attention of Management. The Union claimed that Management failed to address these grievances. Local discussions were held in May, 2004 following which Management issued a written response to the issues raised by the claimant. The Union was not satisfied with the response. The dispute was referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation. On he 18th February, 2005 the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:
"The complaints made by the Claimant refer to matters from when she was first employed by Teagasc 7 years ago to 2003. No evidence was presented that the complaints made by the Claimant had ever been raised with her employer prior to the 11th May, 2004. In the document titled "Observation on Mr Boyle's letter" the Claimant made no reference to any complaint she had, that related to 2004. When she referred to her latest transfer in mid-April, 2004, she acknowledged that there had been prior discussion with her prior to her transfer taking place. The only other reference in the document to 2004 relates to a missed training day, a matter that has little or no bearing on the matters under consideration.
Having carefully reviewed the oral and written submissions made by the parties, I find against the claimant. In arriving at this recommendation I am making no comment as to whether or not there was any validity to the Claimants complaints pre 2004. I do believe that if the claimant had grievances then, she should have raised them at the time with her employer. By doing so she would have allowed the Respondent the opportunity to address any matters arising."
On the 21st March,2005 the Union appealed the recommendation to the Labour Court. The Court heard the appeal on the 11th October, 2005.
3. 1. The claimant has pointed out her dissatisfaction with being treated differently from her colleagues since 2002. She has used the Mentoring Programme, PMDS group meetings and also on a one to one basis at County level prior to going to Personnel. The handling of the claimant's grievances by Personnel has also been completely unsatisfactory.
2. The claimant has been transferred from one location to another without proper consultation or agreement, she has not been supported by management in the manner to which she is entitled during her pregnancies She was not being allowed to maintain clients on a year to year basis.
3. The claimant is seeking redress as follows:
(a) A written confirmation that her targets and levels of attainment have been adjusted appropriately to take account for both periods of maternity leave.
(b) A full written apology from senior Teagasc management for her treatment in relation to the above.
(c) a recommendation that Teagasc put best practice into practice and equip their line managers and the organisation as a whole to deal with pregnant staff members appropriately.
(d) A commitment that the claimant will not be victimised an any way in attempting to address her grievances.
(e) Some form of material recompense, given the treatment of the claimant by her employer and for the related stress caused.
4. 1. The employer has treated the claimant fairly and equitably and in similar manner to her colleagues with regard to the setting of targets, the allocation of clients and in relation to her conditions of employment. Any of these issues she raised with Personnel in April, 2004 were consistent with the general issues associated with the REPS Planner role, identified by REPS colleagues in 2002. Management initiated a series of initiatives to assist and support REPS Planners.
2. The claimant's manager enjoyed a good working relationship with her. It was his preference to deal with issues as they arose and he regularly met with the claimant to discuss any concerns she may have had . The claimant was subject to the same level of support and mentoring which was made available to her REPS Planner colleagues and she was not treated any differently to them. She did experience difficulty achieving her targets which were reduced to take account of her absences during 2002 and 2003. She was offered support in planning her work, and even offered alternative clients, which she declined.
In the course of the hearing the employer accepted that the record of the claimant's performance (as measured by the income which she generated) for the year 2002, which was placed on her personal file, failed to take account of her absence while on maternity leave. In the Court's view this is a serious matter for which no adequate explanation has been given. Moreover, the Court accepts that the organisation failed to respond adequately to the claimant's grievances and with the expedition which they warranted.
This should now be acknowledged by the organisation.
The Court believes that the parties should look to the future in seeking a final resolution of these issues. In that regard the organisation should correct the record relating to 2002 on the claimant's file forthwith. It should also furnish the claimant with a normal client list. Any issue concerning this list should be discussed with the Union . Furthermore the claimant should be furnished with an assurance in writing that the matters giving rise to this referral will not have a deleterious affect on her career progression or the opportunities available to her for further training or development.
On the basis set out above this matter should be regarded as closed.
The recommendation of the Rights Commissioner is amended accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th October, 2005
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Tom O'Dea, Court Secretary.