INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
MARYFIELD NURSING HOME
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH BUSINESS AND EMPLOYERS' CONFEDERATION)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Duffy
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr Nash
1. Change to working Christmas shift.
2. The Home has approximately 75 employees, full and part-time. The case concerns
the Home's need to provide continuity of service over the Christmas and New Year
period. It involves eight long-serving workers, although the Home says it is the four workers who provide care/catering who are critical to its needs. The Home wants the workers involved to work either Christmas Day or New Year's day once every three years. The Union's case is that there is an agreement that these employees have never worked these days. The years of service for the four workers ranges from 10 to 28 years.
Local discussions took place and on the 6th January, 2006, Management made a final offer:
1. That staff members involved only making themselves available either on a Christmas or a New Year once in three years
2. That they would be offered additional days' annual leave on the year that they initially worked either Christmas or New Year.
3. That they would be requested to work these shifts in an inverse seniority basis.
4. That they would receive a gift of €200 each on the year they work either Christmas or New Year as a gesture of good will and that,
5. Staff members involved need only make themselves available when all other staff members had been requested to cover the shifts in question were unable to do so.
The Union rejected the offer. The dispute was referred to the Labour Relations Commission and a conciliation conference took place. As the parties did not reach agreement, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on 10th of November, 2005, in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 4th of May, 2006.
3. 1. The Home has seen many changes in recent years, most noticeably a dramatic increase in resident profiles which has resulted in a marked increase in residents' dependency. Staff level ratios to patients have increased from 1:17 in 1996 to 1:5.3 in 2006.
2. Staff have expressed their dissatisfaction that some members had never worked on Christmas Day or New Year's Day.
3. The Company has made exhaustive efforts to resolve the situation over the last 18 months, including offering additional payment and annual leave.
4. The employees concerned would only be required to work a number of hours on each of the mornings in question. It is vital that the most experienced employees are present.
4. 1. There is a long-standing arrangement in place that certain named members are not required to work on Christmas Day / New Years day.
2. The Union checked with other members of staff to see if they had a problem with the arrangement but nobody had.
3. There have been no difficulties in the last two years in securing sufficient staff to cover the days in question.
It is accepted by the employer that the staff members affected by this claim are currently contractually exempt from a requirement to work over the Christmas / New Year period. That arrangement was, however, entered into when the needs of the residents could be fully met without requiring the services of those members of staff. Due to a variety of factors which were explained to the Court the circumstances in which the Home was able to agree to this exemption have changed substantially. Consequently, it is no longer feasible to fully cater for the needs of the residents over the Christmas and New Year period without the services of those who are currently exempt from a requirement to work on the days in question.
In all the circumstances the Court believes that it is not unreasonable for the Employer to seek agreement that the staff members concerned will work over the Christmas / New Year period. The Court recommends that final agreement should now be reached on this issue on the basis of the final offer made by the Employer on 6th January, 2006, (as set out in its submission to the Court ) subject to the following modifications:
- 1. The staff members concerned should be permitted to choose the shift on which
he or she will work on the day in question.
2. On each occasion on which they work over the Christmas / New Year period the staff member concerned should be paid €250 (or receive a gift to a similar value, as the employee decides) and they should also receive an additional day's annual leave in the following leave year. Both should be in addition to their normal entitlement in respect of working on the day.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
19th May, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.