INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 2004
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
REGIONAL MATERNITY HOSPITAL
(REPRESENTED BY THE HEALTH SERVICE EXECUTIVE)
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY IRISH MUNICIPAL, PUBLIC AND CIVIL TRADE UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Doherty
Worker Member: Mr O'Neill
1. 1. Full-time employment. 2. Compensation for loss of earnings.
2. The Union's case is as follows; the worker has been employed in the reception area of the Hospital in Limerick for the last 30 years. In September, 1999, she made an application for part-time work was approved by management. In May, 2005, the worker informed the Hospital of her intention to return to full-time work with effect from 6th of July, 2005. When she did return (she worked one week full-time) she became aware that the other person in reception had not been re-assigned and she agreed to go back to half-time work in order to allow the issue to be resolved. In October, 2005, the worker received a letter from management stating the terms of the job-sharing scheme and refusing her return to full-time work.
In March, 2006, management proposed three posts as alternatives to the worker but she refused them as they were not suitable. The Union referred the worker's case to the Labour Court on the 16th of February, 2006, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 8th of November, 2006, in Limerick. The worker agreed to be bound by the Court's recommendation.
3. 1. Although the worker expressed a willingness to return to work full-time in May, 2005, management made no arrangements to facilitate her in accordance with the job-sharing scheme.
2. At no time during her 2-month notice to return to work (May - July 2005) was she informed that there was a problem with her returning.
3. The clause in the job-sharing scheme that management is relying on does not preclude the worker from returning to full-time employment.
4. 1. The relevant policy to the job sharing schemes states"staff who opt for job-sharing will have an opportunity to return to full-time employment subject to (a) the occurrence of a suitable vacancy, not necessarily in their former post and (b) having worked on a job-sharing basis for a period of not less than one year".
2. Management has made every effort to accommodate the worker full time in the reception area but, to date, that has not been possible. The worker rejected three alternative posts that were offered to her.
3. If the Union's claim were conceded it would mean that the other job-sharer would have to leave, something she does not want to do.
The dispute before the Court under Section 20(1) of the industrial Relations Act, 1969, relates to the Union’s contention on behalf of a Clerical Officer employed in the reception area of the Mid-Western Regional Maternity Hospital that management had failed to facilitate her return to full time employment following a period on a job-sharing arrangement. It held the view that management had not taken any proactive measures to facilitate her return. It also held that management should have re-assigned her job-sharing partner in order to facilitate the claimant’s return to her original full time post. The Union also sought compensation for the loss of earnings incurred.
Management for their part stated that it had not contravened any of the conditions of the Job-Sharing Scheme and had made every effort to accommodate her return to full time employment. A number of full-time posts within the Regional Hospital structure had been offered to her but, as they were deemed unsuitable, she had declined the offers. Management indicated to the Court that they were committed to informing her of all available full-time positions at her grade within the Regional Hospital Structure.
At the hearing the Union clarified the claimant’s position. It stated that she was willing to consider positions outside of the Regional Hospital Structure. In response management gave its assurances to inform her of all available full-time positions at her grade both within the Regional Hospital Structure and within the wider HSE.
Having considered the views of the parties expressed in their oral and written submissions, and having examined the terms of the Job-Sharing Scheme, the Court is satisfied that management has fully complied with its terms. The Court recommends that the commitment/assurances given at the hearing should be accepted as fulfilling management’s obligations under the scheme. Furthermore, the Court does not accept that there are grounds for the payment of compensation for loss of earnings. The Court is of the view that, while not ideal, the claimant could have availed of a full time position in the meantime while awaiting a suitable position.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th November, 2006______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran O'Neill, Court Secretary.