INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
NATIONAL EDUCATIONAL WELFARE BOARD (NEWB)
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Recovery of financial loss/incremental credit
2. The Union's case concerns the refusal by the worker's employer to allow incremental credit on her assimilation to the salary scale of Education Welfare Officer (EWO) by not reckoning her previous experience as a primary school teacher. The worker had served as a school teacher from June 1978 until August, 1991. After that she alternated between the public and private sector.
The worker took up employment as an EWO with the Board on the 17th of November, 2003, and was put on Point 1 of the salary scale. In a letter to management in March, 2005, the worker gave reasons why she believed that she should have been on the higher end of the EWO pay scale, citing her long experience as a teacher and also the pay level she was on when she had left the private sector to take up the EWO post. A reply from management in June, 2005, stated that the Board was in discussions with the Department of Education and Science regarding placement on the salary scale, and, as a result, it could not deal with an individual case. The worker remained on Point 1 of the scale. There was further correspondence between the parties but no resolution was reached.
The Union referred the case to the Labour Court on the 6th of February, 2006, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 26th April, 2006. The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. The merits of the worker's claim have never been considered and she has been denied due process. Her long years of experience as a teacher were ignored simply because she had last worked in the private sector at the time she took up the EWO post.
2. Other appointees to EWO positions negotiated directly with the Board and secured increases in starting pay.
3. As a result of her low wages, the worker was forced to accept a teaching post in Kilkenny in October, 2005.
4. 1. The worker was assimilated in terms of pay, consistent with the assimilation salary applicable to all non-commercial state bodies in this regard. The Board does not have the power to unilaterally apply incremental credit in conflict with the policy directives of the Minister for Finance.
2. The worker accepted the post with a starting salary on the minimum of the scale and only raised her claim 16 months later.
3. While the Department of Finance was prepared to offer some leeway to the Board it could not cover the worker's claim, given that she had chosen to leave the public sector.
The case before the Court concerns a claim by the Union on behalf of the claimant that the National Education Welfare Board (NEWB) did not allow or pursue the issue of reckonability of her previous work experience as a primary school teacher for the purposes of incremental credit when assimilating her on the Education Welfare Officer salary scale.
The Board stated that she was placed on the minimum point of the scale when she was appointed as Education Welfare Officer in November 2003, in accordance with the normal rules and conditions governing pay of non-commercial State Bodies. It explained that its assimilation policy, sanctioned by the Department of Finance, gave special consideration and allowed a temporary derogation from the policy to facilitate the Board to recruit public servants above the minimum of the scale. However, as her service prior to joining the Board was in the private sector it was not reckonable for incremental purposes. Consequently, the Board could not take it into account.
The Department’s policy stated“where it is considered by an NCSSB[Non-Commercial State Body]that there is a requirement for recruitment above the minimum of the scale they should prepare a case setting out the reasons why they consider the adjustment is warranted. If the Department considers that there is merit in the case, specific sanction should be sought from the Department”.
The Court has considered both the oral and written submissions in this case. The Court notes the Union’s arguments that the claimant’s experience as a teacher was relied upon to qualify her for the position as Education Welfare Officer, however, its position on the incremental credit made her continuing employment with the Board financially untenable. Furthermore, the Court notes the Board’s continuing difficulties in recruiting suitable staff due to the problems associated with non-reckonability of incremental credit.
For all these reasons, and even though she is no longer employed by the NEWB, the Court recommends that the Board should, notwithstanding her period of employment in the private sector, put forward an individual case to the Department on her behalf seeking sanction to recognise her considerable length of service as a primary school teacher for incremental credit regarding her commencing salary.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
8th May, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.