INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 20(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
SCOIL MHICHIL NAOFA
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Mr Hayes
Employer Member: Ms Cryan
Worker Member: Mr Shanahan
1. Department of Education & Skills' Circular 0059/2006, Seniority of Special Needs Assistants (Seniority Circular).
2. The Claimant commenced employment with Scoil Mhicil Naofa Primary School in February 2005 in the post of Special Needs Assistant (SNA) until her job was terminated in August 2010 due to a loss of hours, however, she was re-employed the following month on full-time (28.6 hours per week) hours. In September 2011 her hours were reduced from full-time to only 2.34 hours per week. A Special Educational Needs Officer (SENO) decided the allocation of SNA hours to the school and the school Management, in accordance with the terms of the Seniority Circular allocated the total hours between the individual SNAs. The Worker is seeking a return to full-time hours while the school Management claim that it is not possible unless she was providing cover for a 'contracted' SNA. The Worker is claiming that Management has breached the Department of Education and Skills Circular 0059/2006.
On the 21st March 2012 the Union referred the issue to the Labour Court, in accordance with Section 20(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969. A Labour Court hearing took place on the 21st June 2012.
The Union agreed to be bound by the Court’s Recommendation.
3. 1. There no longer exist within the school system 'Child Specific Contracts' and at present all SNA's rotate through the school on average once every six weeks.
2. The Worker was not treated in accordance with Circular 0059/2006 as there are presently two SNAs with less seniority in receipt of working full time working hours.
4. 1. Management cannot agree to the Worker's claim for an increase in her hours. The allocation of hours is determined by SENO and such an increase would be in contravention of the Seniority Circular.
2. The Worker cannot be entitled to compensation for loss of earnings given that Management has acted in accordance with the Seniority Circular.
The Court has carefully considered the submissions of both parties to this dispute.
The Court finds that, even allowing for the rigidities of the payroll administration system within the Department of Education, an accommodation was possible in this case. However the discretion that was available to the school under Circular 0059/2006 was not exercised in her favour in this case. Accordingly the Court finds that there is merit in the Union's case. The Court recommends that the school pay the Worker €5,000 compensation for the unfair treatment accorded to her and that steps are taken to ensure that more equitable arrangements, including the allocation of substitute hours should they arise, are put in place for the Worker concerned in the future.
The Court so recommends
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
27th September, 2012______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to John Foley, Court Secretary.