INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY CIVIL AND PUBLIC SERVICE UNION)
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. A Claim by the Union that a worker be restored to the Company's payroll.
2. The case before the Court concerns a dispute between the CPSU and An Post in relation to the status of an employee. The employee had been on a sanctioned career break which terminated on 11th October 2004. The employee in question returned to work on that date but was certified unfit for work from 18th October, 2004. She remains on sick leave to date.
The employee was reverted to the status of career break from the 14th January, 2005, having been paid sick pay since 18th October, 2004. The Union (on behalf of the worker) is claiming that An Post was not entitled to revert the employee to career break status and is requesting that the employee be returned to the payroll.
An Post's position is that the employee was reverted to career break status as that was the appropriate option in the circumstances.
On the 18th July, 2005, the worker referred the issue to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 5th of October, 2005.
The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's Recommendation.
3. 1. By placing the employee on career break status, An Post is breaking long standing agreements and custom and practice.
2. The career break of the employee had finished. It had no relevance once the employee had returned to work. The employee had become ill after having returned from sick leave and should have been paid in accordance with the relevant Sick Pay Scheme.
3. The appropriate sick leave entitlement should have been based on the four years previous to the commencement of the career break.
AN POST'S ARGUMENTS:
4. 1. The Chief Medical Officer reported that it was unlikely that the employee would return to work for quite some time. Under the circumstances and given the previous status of the employee the employer exercised its discretion and reinstated the employee to the status of career break. This was the most appropriate action.
2. The employee was paid sick leave in accordance with the Sick Pay Scheme for thirteen weeks from 18 October 2004.
3. Given all the circumstances the employer concluded that the employee returned to work for one week only in order to qualify for payment under the Sick Pay Scheme.
The Court is satisfied that the Company did not have the authority to place the Claimant on a career break without her consent. The Claimant was unable to work due to illness and the appropriate classification of her absence was that of sick leave. Her absence should now be reclassified accordingly.
The facts of this case are quite extraordinary. The Claimant was absent from her employment for seven years while on an extended career break. She returned to work for five days and was then unable to continue in employment due to illness. Against that background the Court does not consider it appropriate to recommend that the Claimant be restored to the full benefits of the Sick Pay Scheme. It believes that in these extraordinary circumstances the management are entitled to exercise their discretion under the Scheme not to allow the full duration of paid sick leave normally provided.
Finally, the Court notes that the Company is prepared to examine alternative employment options in which the Claimant might be accommodated and which might be more suited to her current circumstances.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
24th October, 2005______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.