INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
OUR LADY'S HOSPICE
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY AMICUS)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Ms Ni Mhurchu
1. Appeal against Rights Commissioner's Recommendation R-037548-IR-05-DI.
2. The issue involves a claim by the claimant who is employed by Our Lady’s Hospice as a maintenance fitter/plumber since April, 2001. He started work under the supervision of a Manager with whom he assisted and worked alongside. The Manager has since left the employment of the Hospice. The Claimant maintains that he took on board the extra workload created by the Manager’s departure, as well as being on call to cover all mechanical emergencies. In light of the Managers departure, the Hospice conducted a review of work practices and moved from using steam boilers to using gas boilers. In 2004 the claimant lodged a claim seeking to have his position upgraded as he believed he had taken on more duties following the departure of the manager and is seeking promotion to the post of Working Foreman, Mechanical Service with effect from January, 2003 in appreciation of his skills, qualifications and commitment.
- Local discussion failed to resolve the matter. The matter was then referred to a Rights Commissioner for investigation and recommendation. On the 27th March, 2006, the Rights Commissioner issued his recommendation as follows:
“Having considered the submissions made by the parties I find that the claimant is correctly graded at his current level“.
- On the 25th April, 2006 the claimant appealed the Rights Commissioner's Recommendation to the Labour Court in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 13th July, 2006.
3.1 The Claimant, has over his time employed in the Hospice, shown an ability to change and adjust. He has demonstrated excellence in his craft and has also demonstrated a high level of ability and experience in the mechanical field.
2. The Hospice's mechanical maintenance is in-house and contractors are a supplement to the in-house craft employee. Contractors require an appropriate qualified Hospital Employee to ensure the standard and quality of their work. The Union maintains that the Claimant fulfils this task.
3. The Claimant has more responsibility in some matters than those in a large Health Campus due to his lone role, being the only Maintenance Fitter/Plumber employed in the Hospice.
4. The Claimant is not prohibited by the 2003 Analogue Agreement where promotion without replacement can be processed locally.
5. Pay scales are agreed for Health Services Executive Craft Employees under the Local Authority and Health Services Analogue. The Foreman Scale is part of this Agreement.
4.1 Following the Manager's departure, the Building Services Manager took over the responsibilities for any internal maintenance. The decision to incorporate the Claimant's role into the Building Services Department arose from a review that clearly established the fact that there was no requirement for two Managers in such a small department. The Hospice system is now run on gas with the exception of one steam boiler, significantly limiting the requirement for plumbing maintenance. All staff in this area report to Building Services Manager, including the Claimant.
2. This claim is strictly prohibited by the Craftworkers Analogue Agreement of 2003. This agreement requires employees to respond to the change and modernisation requirements of facilities in the Health Services. The claimant has shown an unwillingness to change his reporting line and has not been asked to make significant changes in his work practices. Management are entitled to introduce changes in accordance with the Analogue Agreement.
3. The position of foreman by its very nature involves supervisory duties and greater responsibilities than could ever be available in the Hospice because of its size. All maintenance work is routine in nature, the Hospice utilises contractors for any other significant maintenance requirements when the need arises Contractors do maintenance checks approximately four times a year.
4. The Building Services Manager has attained substantial qualifications meriting his management status. He directly supervises the Claimant and assigns tasks to him commensurate with his role.
5. The Claimant has not put forward any grounds justifying an upgrade of his position, notwithstanding the fact that the Hospice is not in a position to interfere with the Health Service pay scales and grading structures. Concession of this claim would be precedent setting, not only within the Hospice itself but anywhere any category or grade of employee could present a similar argument where a change of management has occurred, specifically within the Health sector.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, the Court notes that the appellant is graded as a chargehand on the Health Service scales and is satisfied that this grade reflects the range of duties and level of responsibility carried out by him in his current role. Therefore, the Court concurs with the findings of the Rights Commissioner and upholds his recommendation.
Accordingly, the worker's appeal fails.
The Court so decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.