INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
PFIZERS IRELAND PHARMACEUTICALS
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. 1. Change in actual policy on Time-in-lieu 2. Claim for 2.75 hours Time-in-lieu for one worker.
2. The Company is involved in the Pharmaceutical Industry. The issues in dispute relate to an alleged change in the actual policy on time in lieu and a claim for 2.75 hours time in lieu for one worker. Both claims are directly linked.
The Union on behalf of its 140 general operatives maintain that for a number of years it has been the policy on site that an employee who is late for work can use banked hours in lieu of the time missed. The Union claim that in May, 2005 following a series of presentations to staff, the Company changed this policy and that this was done without consultation or agreement with the Union. The Union is seeking to have the old policy of using banked hours for lates restores.
The Union is also seeking that pay deducted from the worker for the 2.75 hours concerned be reimbursed and the 2.75 hours deducted from her banked hours. There is a dispute between the parties regarding the amount of hours concerned. The Company claims that the hours in question are 3.75, the Union claims that it is 2.75 hours in question . The Company maintains that banked hours should only be used where prior sanction has been received for an absence.
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 7th November, 2005 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 23rd May, 2006.
3.1 The Company is clearly breaking the actual policy on Time-in-lieu that has operated for a considerable length of time. It is not acceptable to the Union that the Company should do this without formal interaction between the parties.
2. The history of Industrial Relations is that change has always been discussed and negotiated and agreement reached. This has allowed the Company to prosper over the years.
3. The Union were never made aware that a problem was developing in respect of lates. The Union would have made themselves available to seek resolution if lates were becoming an issue.
4.1 The new practice regarding lates outlined in the performance presentations has been adopted to the letter throughout the plant over the last 11 months. Other employees outside of the operator group have had late attendance dealt with in the same manner over the last year as the worker concerned. The Company has an obligation to apply its rules in a consistent manner. This is what has been done.
2. The Company cannot reverse the policy and continue with a practice that actually works against transparency in our operational metrics.
3. The position for which the Union has argued, seeks to re-establish a wholly unacceptable and extraordinary practice that literally means one cannot be late for work. This results in a situation whereby the statistics surrounding attendance at work are shielded from reality.
4. The Company can only be sensibly asked to pay for time worked. Attendance at work must be accurately recorded, open to scrutiny and not presented as an illusion. The Company does not have the discretion to treat late attendance other than in the manner now practised.
The cases before the Court concerns the Company’s application of a Time Off in Lieu policy. The time off in lieu arises due to the change from 40 hour working to 39 hours, whereby workers accrue a maximum of 48 hours time off in lieu per annum. Over the years a practice has developed whereby time off in lieu has been used to offset late attendance at work. When this practice came to light and the Company discovered the extent of “worker lateness”, it sought to reinforce its policy which required the leave to be authorised in advance. During the period April/May 2005 the Company made presentation to staff which stated that “time off in lieu may not be used retrospectively to balance time lost as a result of being late”.
A difficulty with the new policy emerged when one worker was deducted circa 3 hours pay for being late in early June 2005. Consequently, the Union sought to re-instate the previous practice.
Having considered the matter the Court is of the view that the Company’s efforts to deal with the matter are fair and reasonable, and the Union must accept that the unauthorised use of time off in lieu to offset late attendance at work is not acceptable.
Therefore, the Court is of the view that there is an onus on the parties to clarify and agree procedures for availing of the time off in lieu and in particular to detail the conditions under which the leave may be used to offset late attendance at work. The Court recommends that these procedures should be devised and completed within a period of four weeks from the date of this Recommendation.
In relation to the one worker in dispute, the Court does not recommend in favour of her claim for reimbursement for the time deducted in respect of her late attendance on that morning in early June, 2005.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
1st June, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Jackie Byrne, Court Secretary.