ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION
Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00003096
Complaint(s)/Dispute(s) for Resolution:
Complaint/Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 04/10/2016
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Emer O'Shea
In accordance with Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 following the referral of the complaint(s)/dispute(s) to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint(s)/dispute(s) and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint(s)/dispute(s).
Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:
The claimant is employed as a Senior Emergency Control Operator at the Local Authorities Emergency Call Centre and has been in the employment of the Local Authority for the past 12 years. The union set out the claimant’s job specification, duties and responsibilities and highlighted the claimant’s academic achievements .It was submitted that the claimant fulfilled a very demanding managerial role dealing with critical decisions on a daily basis.
The claimant was aggrieved with the Local Authority’s decision to exclude him from internal competitions for Grade VI and Grade VII posts on the basis that he was ineligible .The qualifications require that “ each candidate must have satisfactory experience at a level not lower than that of an Assistant Staff Officer “ and the County Council deemed that the claimant’s grade of employment “ is lower than that of Assistant Staff Officer “ .The claimant had processed his grievance through the Council’s procedure but was unsuccessful. It was contended that at a minimum the claimant’s post was analogous to that of Assistant Staff Officer and that consequently he should have been deemed eligible to compete.
It was submitted by the union that the claimant’s duties and responsibilities were well in excess of those expected of an ASO, that when shift allowances are taken into account his pay was equivalent to 113% of an ASO’s salary and that the claimant in fact fulfilled the role of manager of the emergency centre, in the absence of the Executive Emergency Communications Officer. A comparison was drawn with the generic job spec for an ASO and it was submitted that it clearly demonstrated the higher level of responsibility and skillset required of the claimant’s post. It was submitted that success in one of the competitions from which the claimant had been excluded would have increased his earnings significantly and enabled the claimant to move to more family friendly work arrangements.
The union requested the role of Senior Emergency Control Operator be recognised and that the claimant be compensated for having been excluded from the most recent round of internal competitions which resulted in a significant number of promotions.
Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:
The respondent set out the background to the setting up of the emergency and outlined the terms and conditions of employment of those working within the service. An outline of the grievance process pursued by the claimant was presented.
It was submitted that a core function of the local authority was to safeguard standards of best practise in recruitment and selection and it was asserted that the respondent was satisfied it observed fairness and transparency in the competitions at issue. It was advanced that the qualifications for Grade VI and Grade VII are laid down by the Dept. and require that candidates must have satisfactory experience at Grade IV level – this is a prerequisite. It was submitted that the Council will always seek to include a candidate where possible however “ all such decisions have to be taken into account initially on the eligibility criteria for the role in accordance with the qualifications set by the Dept and applied consistently across all local authorities. It was contended that it was not the function of an Adjudicator to make a decision on the merits of the claimant’s application and that the dispute was not appropriate to a referral under the Industrial Relations Acts. This is a national qualification and it was contended that an individual local authority cannot interpret qualifications on an ad hoc basis.
It was argued that if the claimant were to be successful it would create an anomaly for other candidates who had been denied access to other competitions in other local authorities and lead to other cases been taken. I was submitted that he only linkage the claimant’s grade had with that of Grade IV is a pay linkage i.e. a proportion of the Grade IV salary – it was submitted that this was the norm in the public service and did not confer other rights or establish entitlements to being analogous.
It was suggested that if IMPACT wished to address the matter of qualifications it was open to them to do so on a national basis to amend the qualifications for the posts at issue. The matter would then have to be addressed by the Dept. of Housing Planning Community and Local Government who have ultimate responsibility for qualifications.
I have reviewed the evidence presented at the hearing and noted the respective positions of the parties. Additionally, I have noted the indication from the respondent that they may be willing to amend the qualifications for access to these promotional opportunities but any such proposal would have to be the subject of national discussions involving IMPACT, the Local authorities and the Dept.
While I acknowledge that IMPACT put forward compelling grounds to support their contention that the duties and responsibilities of the claimant are at least equivalent to ASO and while I accept that the claimant has a legitimate grievance, I cannot recommend that the respondent unilaterally digress from nationally determined qualifications that are currently governed by the common recruitment pool and to which the respondent and Impact are party. In the circumstances therefore I cannot uphold the claimant’s complaint. Given the indication from the respondent that they would be amenable to considering amendments to the qualifications to allow access for candidates such as the claimant into the future, I recommend that the parties engage nationally on any such proposals.
Dated: 21st December 2016