INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACTS, 1946 TO 1990
SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
CORK COUNTY COUNCIL
- AND -
SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Mr McCarthy
1. Claim for payment of subsistence allowance in accordance with Revenue-approved allowances.
2. This case concerns a claim for subsistence allowance in accordance with Revenue-approved allowances. The Union stated that its members engaged as Outdoor Workers should be entitled to subsistence payments who are absent from their base for a minimum of five hours and working in excess of 8km from their base.
- The Employer said payment of the subsistence allowance is governed by Articles 14 to 18 of the Local Government (Officers) Regulations 1943 and paragraph 73 of the Departments Circular letter E2 7/52 of 23rdJune 1952.
This dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Labour Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 14th April 2015 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9th September 2015.
3. 1. Over the past number of years, including the moratorium on recruitment within the Public Service generally, there have been dramatic and far-reaching changes in various Directorates within Cork County Council e.g Roads, Environment and Water and the dissolution of the Town Councils.
2. This has culminated in the Workers undertaking exponentially more work in wider geographic regions ex-base.
3. The Union see no reason why the Outdoor Staff should not be paid the appropriate subsistence rate if they meet the criteria for payment.
4. 1. Outdoor Workers are entitled to two separate national allowances i.e. the Meal Allowance and the Eating-on-Site Allowance.
2. This is a cross sectoral allowance and should the Union have wished to have pursued this, it would have been appropriate to recent discussions as part of the proposed Landsdowne Road Agreement, however it was not raised by SIPTU.
3. In 2012 the Department of Public Enterprise and Reform undertook a review of public service allowances and premium pay. All Local Authorities including Cork County Council were required to provide business cases for the payment of allowances including the Eating-on-Site Allowance.
4. Any change to the current payment of allowances will require the sanction of the Department of Public Enterprise.
The matter before the Court concerns the Union’s claim for payment of subsistence allowance in accordance with Revenue Approved Allowances as specified in the Revenue Commissioners’ Statement of Practice SP-IT/2/07 entitled“Tax treatment of the reimbursement of Expenses of Travel and Subsistence to Office Holders and Employees”. It contended that its members engaged as Outdoor Workers should be entitled to subsistence payments which are applicable to employees with a normal place of work who must be absent from their base for a minimum of five hours and working in excess of 8km from their base.
Management argued that Outdoor Workers are entitled to two separate national allowances i.e. the Meal Allowance and the Eating-On-Site Allowance, however, entitlement to the allowances claimed by the Claimants could arise only on very exceptional occasions. Management stated that the allowances paid to the Claimants were in line with those approved under Articles 14 to 18 of the Local Government (Officers) Regulations 1943 and paragraph 73 of the Department’s Circular letter E2 7/52 of 23rdJune 1952 as amended by subsequent Circular letters up to and including Circular Letter EL 06/05, dated 29thAugust 2005 and Circular Letter El 07/06.
The Court has considered the oral and written submissions made by both parties. The Court notes the Circular Letters referred to above which set out the payment details of subsistence allowances and SP-IT/2/07 which sets out the tax treatment of such expenses for different categories of office-holders and employees. The Revenue Circular states that Eating-On-Site Allowances are paid “Site-Based Employees” (i.e. a worker who does not have a fixed base and who in the course of his/her employment performs substantive duties on behalf of his/her employer at different locations) is in line with the Circulars and the Revenue guidelines.
It appears to the Court from the Circulars referred to and the Revenue guidelines that they are being correctly applied to the Claimants in this case and accordingly the Court does not recommend in favour of the Union’s claim.
However, in the event of an individual employee disputing the application in his/her individual circumstances then, in accordance with Circular Letter EL 07/06, he/she should address the complaint to the Local Government Personnel Section of the Department.
The Court so recommends.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
23rd September, 2015Deputy Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran Roche, Court Secretary.