INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Grier
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
2. In April, 2003, the Department of Health and Children Circular S24/2003, provided for re-structuring of Assistant House Parents to Social Care Worker and House Parents to Social Care leader, and this resulted in significant pay increases for those involved.
- The dispute before the Court concerns a claim by the Union that Trainee Social Care Workers, who were employed as Trainee Assistant House Parents by the Galway Association, prior to the issue of the Department of Health and Children Circular S24/2003, should have been assimilated into the grade of Social Care Worker in the implementation of that circular.
The Association's position is that the this agreement also stipulated that only those with specified, recognised qualifications or those with other relevant qualifications could be appointed to positions as Social Care Workers. The Association rejects the claim on the basis that the agreement did not provide for it.
- 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 2nd February, 2006, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 7th June, 2006.
3. 1. The former Trainee Assistant Houseparents have been treated unjustly by the Galway Association on the basis of their temporary status. In the implementation of the agreement they should have been assimilated into the grade of Social Care Worker. This assimilation should have been effective from February, 2002, in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The trainees have been carrying out the full duties of Social Care Workers since February, 2002. The report of the Joint Committee on Social Care Professionals is explicit in terms of the duties of Trainee Social Care Workers. It clearly states that trainees shall be supernumerary and shall not be counted as part of the team. Despite this the trainees have been working as part of the team. This is in breach of the National Agreement.
4. 1.Certain qualifications are required to be re-graded and the Association has made every effort to support the employees concerned in obtaining a recognised qualification, including financial support and paid special leave to undertake studies.They are guaranteed permanent Social Care Worker positions once they have completed their studies successfully.
It is accepted that the Claimants in this case are undertaking the full range of duties of a Social Care Worker. They are also part of the compliment of Social Care Professionals on shifts and are part of the operational numbers on teams delivering the service which the Association provides to its clients. In the courts view, their role in that regard is incompatible with that of a Trainee Social Care Worker under the agreement between the HSE and the Union. Also, having regard to the duties which they perform, the Court cannot accept that the Claimants could be appropriately designated as Care Assistants.
In the Court's view the Association cannot reasonably expect the staff in question to undertake the duties of a Social Care Worker and not be paid the appropriate rate for the job. It is also clear that the Association could not continue to provide a service to its clients if the Claimants ceased to perform the full range of duties which they currently undertake.
The Court believes that there are compelling circumstances in this case which warrant the Claimants being designated as Social Care Workers and paid accordingly. The Court recommends that they should be so designated but on a red-circled basis and on the understanding that this will have no precedent value in relation to any other personnel in this or any other employment.
The Court recommends that the Union's claim be conceded but that, in the circumstances of this case, the higher salary should be effective from 1st January 2006 with retrospection limited to that date.
The Court is conscious of the financial implications for the Association rising from the implementation of this Recommendation. The Court wishes to express the hope that the funding agencies will have regard to the compelling and unusual circumstances in which this Recommendation is made and that they will respond accordingly.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
3rd July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Joanne O'Connor, Court Secretary.