INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
- AND -
COMMUNICATION WORKERS' UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Retrospective payment of allowance
2. The Company established its Irish call centre in Dublin in 1996 and it handles sales and queries from across Europe. The dispute concerns three workers. The Unions case is as follows:
In December, 2002, two of three of the workers were asked to take part in a three month ad hoc project which involved the establishment of seven European websites. This was outside the workers' normal duties and, at the time, they were not paid for the work. The third worker concerned was trained in on the work in June, 2003. In December, 2003, one of the workers discovered that the ad hoc duties they were carrying out were graded at management / analyst level. The workers approached management and were told that they should put in a re-level (re-grading) request. In November, 2004, the Company made a proposal that the workers would receive an ongoing specialist skills premium (SSP) of €234 per month to include one month's back pay. The workers accepted the ongoing payment but appealed the amount of back pay. The Union is seeking retrospection from February 2003 / June 2003 to July 2004 for two of the workers and February 2003 to August, 2004, for the third worker. (The three appeals were made on different dates but were essentially the same). The Company refused the appeals and the matter was referred to the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement could not be reached at two conciliation conferences the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 13th of April, 2006, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 6th of July, 2006.
3. 1. There is no dispute that the work involved attracted an SSP but there was no agreement that the work would be carried on indefinitely without payment.
2. The financial contribution made by the Company during the disputed period was substantial. The Company admitted that "all the web sites were launched on 25th of February, 2003" and this substantiates the claim that the back payment should be made from that date.
3. The delay in having the claim formally addressed was due to the Company's inaction for over one year.
4. 1. A job evaluation of the workers duties was started in March, 2004. The results of the job evaluation were known in November, 2004, and the SSP was backdated to 12th of August, 2004. None of the workers had a contractual right to an SSP prior to that date.
2. The third worker involved had his job evaluation withdrawn after he ceased doing the web support work in August, 2004.
3. At no time was it agreed that any of the claimants would be entitled to payment of the sum in question. There is no precedent in the Company of a re-levelling being back dated more than one month prior to the receipt of the job evaluation request.
The Court is of the view that in the circumstances of this case there is a cogent argument for treating the 1st of December, 2003, as the date of claim. The Court recommends that each of the claimants (including the third worker) be paid retrospection to that date
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18th July, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.