INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
(REPRESENTED BY ASK HR SOLUTIONS)
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Mr Haugh
Employer Member: Mr Marie
Worker Member: Ms Tanham
2. This case involves an application for an enhanced redundancy package for SIPTU members working for Cheshire Ireland. The following is the Court's Recommendation:
The Cheshire Foundation in Ireland (“the Employer”) is a not-for-profit service provider and is predominantly funded by the HSE. It currently provides support services in 17 residential centres in addition to a range of community-based services throughout the country. It employs approximately 700 workers.
A new national policy for the residential support of persons with a disability has been agreed between the HSE and relevant service providers. The policy is outlined inTime to Move on from Congregated Settings – A Strategy for Community Inclusion(HSE, 2011) and aims to provide residents of congregated settings alternative accommodation and care services in the mainstream community. In order to implement this policy, the Employer proposes to progressively close all of its institutions and residential campuses serving 10 or more people, no later than 2019. This process is currently underway and will result in the compulsory redundancy of a number of catering and domestic staff.
The Employer has experienced severe financial difficulties since 2008. In an effort to counteract these difficulties, the Employer entered into an agreement with SIPTU, the INMO and UNITE in 2014, under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission, whereby the parties agreed to the application in full of the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA).
The Union is seeking an enhanced redundancy package, in line with the terms of section 4 of the HRA, for those of its members who will inevitably be subject to compulsory redundancy as the de-congregation policy is implemented. The Union’s claim, therefore, is for a redundancy package of 3 weeks’ pay per year of service plus statutory, capped at 2 years’ pay.
The Union submits that the agreement it entered into with the Employer in 2014 provided for the application of the HRA ‘in full’ (including the redundancy terms therein) to its members. The Union accepts that the issue of redundancy was not specifically addressed in the process that culminated in the 2014 agreement but redundancies and the application of the exit mechanisms detailed in HRA were in its contemplation.
The Employer submits that it has an established redundancy package that has been in place since 2010. This is based on a formula of 1.5 weeks’ pay per year of service plus statutory. The Union never previously challenged this arrangement. The Employer made a number of workers redundant in 2013 and applied the established redundancy formula then.
The Employer anticipates having to make 70-80 positions redundant between now and 2019. It estimates – applying its established formula - that this will cost the company approximately €1m. The additional cost to it would be €260,000.00 were it to concede the Union’s claim.
The Employer further submits that it signed up to the agreement with the trade unions in 2014 primarily in order to avoid insolvency
In response to the Court’s questioning, the Employer accepted that it had signed up to the application of the HRA terms ‘in full’ in 2014. However, the Court notes the Employer has experienced severe financial difficulties since 2008 and its inability, therefore, to meet the additional cost of any enhanced redundancy package without first securing support from its funding agency. Accordingly, the Court recommends that the Employer should concede the Union’s claim and apply the terms of the redundancy package provided for in the HRA.
Having regard to the Employer’s financial difficulties and substantial dependency on the HSE for funding, the Court further recommends that the Employer should engage in early course with the HSE with a view to securing the necessary additional funding required.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
____16th December 2015______________________
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Andrew Heavey, Court Secretary.