INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
COOMBE WOMEN'S HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
MEDICAL LABORATORY SCIENTISTS ASSOCIATION (MLSA)
Chairman: Mr McGee
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. Position of Deputy Chief Medical Scientist
2. In 1971 the Claimant commenced employment as a Medical Scientist (formerly Medical Technician) at the Coombe Women’s Hospital and in 1973 he was promoted to the position of Senior Technician. In 1977 he was appointed to the unremunerated position of Deputy Chief Medical Scientist (DCMS) until 1983 when he was informed that a colleague, who had obtained a Fellowship from the Academy of Medical Laboratory Science, was being appointed to that position in his place as the colleague now held a higher qualification. The Claimant subsequently received his Fellowship.
- In 1991 the Claimant was appointed to the position of DCMS upon commencement of a career break by his colleague and continued in that position upon the return of his colleague to a job-sharing position in 1995. The colleague later resumed work on a full-time basis and sought reinstatement as DCMS. Hospital Management informed both members of staff that the DCMS position would be divided equally between them.
The dispute before the Court arises as a result of this decision. The Union's claim is that its member, the Claimant, should not suffer as a result of a perceived error on behalf of the Hospital in 1995. Management rejects the claim on the basis that both individuals are entitled to the position of DCMS with an equal division of the duty being equitable.
The dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a conciliation conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 29th September, 2004, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 14th October, 2005, the earliest date suitable to the parties.
3. 1 Following a claim of discrimination under the Hospital's Grievance Procedure by the Claimants colleague in 2003, Hospital Management reached a unilateral decision that the post of Deputy Chief Medical Scientist be shared between the Claimant and his colleague.
2. The Claimant does not accept that he is under any obligation to share the post of DCMS as asserted by Hospital Management.
3. Any error made by the hospital in 1995 should be addressed individually with his colleague and should have no bearing on the formal position the Claimant has held on a whole-time basis since 1991. The decision taken by Hospital Management is not fair and reasonable in its treatment of the Claimant who operated in the post of DCMS in good faith since his formal appointment in 1991.
4. 1. In April 2000 the grade of Technologist and Senior Technician through an expert review committee merged to what is now known as Senior Medical Scientist. Therefore, in the year 2000 both the Claimant and his colleague had the same qualifications and would be deemed to have equal service in the grade if the criteria used by the Hospital are applied to determine who undertakes the deputisation duty. Thus to divide the duty on a 50/50 basis is the most equitable solution.
2. The role of DCMS is not a recognised Department of Health and Children position and accordingly there is no extra remuneration attaching to this responsibility.
3. In the other Maternity Hospitals in Dublin the issue of who deputises for the Chief Medical Scientist is addressed informally by each Senior Medical Scientist taking responsibility for their own subsection within the Department of Laboratory Medicine.
The Court is of the view that in all the circumstances the job-sharing scheme proposed by Management is reasonable and should be implemented. The Court would, however, expect that at all times, but particularly at all times of handover, the highest standards of professionalism would continue to apply, with primacy at all times being accorded to the needs of patients.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th October 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.