SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
INSTITUTE OF TECHNOLOGY TRALEE
(REPRESENTED BY ARTHUR COX SOLICITORS)
- AND -
TEACHERS UNION OF IRELAND
Chairman: Mr Foley
Employer Member: Mr Marie
Worker Member: Mr McCarthy
1. The linkage of the Student Complaint Policy with the Staff Bullying and Harassment Policy.
2. This dispute concerns the linking by the Institute of the Student Complaint Policy and the Staff Bullying and Harassment Policy.
- This dispute could not be resolved at local level and was the subject of a Conciliation Conference under the auspices of the Workplace Relations Commission. As agreement was not reached, the dispute was referred to the Labour Court on the 1st June 2016 in accordance with Section 26(1) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1990.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 1st September 2016.
3. 1. The policies and procedures in their current form are not acceptable.
2. A review team should be established and chaired by an external agency to review the Students Complaints Policy and look at issues such as fair procedures, due process, statute of limitations and the direct linkage with the staff Bullying and Harassment Policy.
3. A review of the Staff Bullying and Harassment Policy chaired by an external agency should be carried out to develop best practice policies for dealing fairly with staff and student complaints.
4. 1. The Students Complaints Procedure is an established and approved procedure of the Institute, which was approved by the Academic Council, and has been in operation since 2002.
2. Category D1 of the Students Complaint Procedure allows for the complaint to be handled at Department level with a view to finding a resolution. Where an issue is not resolved, it is processed under the different policies as appropriate.
3. The Student Handbook, which forms part of the contract between the students and the Institute, sets out the procedure for dealing with complaints. Students are entitled to have their complaint dealt with under the procedure.
The Court has considered in detail the written and oral submissions of the parties.
The Court understands that the parties are committed to securing a position whereby the procedures available to address complaints by students are fair and appropriate so as to protect the students and those about whom a complaint might be made.
The Court notes the efforts made by the parties to address the issues in dispute. In essence the parties have sought to find a means to review existing procedures as well as to (a) deal with complaints which have already been made but not processed to completion, and (b) deal with complaints which might be made before finalisation of a review of existing procedures.
It is not for the Court in this dispute to take a view as to the adequacy of existing procedures. It is for the Court to make recommendations as to how to progress the matters adverted to above and which are at the heart of the current dispute.
The Court recommends that the proposals of the Workplace Relations Commission dated 25thApril 2016 should be accepted with the following clarifications
•The review group proposed at Paragraph 1 of the WRC proposal should, if viewed as necessary by either party, be chaired by an agreed independent person. The time frame set out in the proposal for conduct of the review should be altered to reflect the date of acceptance of this Recommendation and should be extended by six weeks in total or by any greater period the parties might jointly agree.
•Complaints which have already been made but not processed to completion (referred to in paragraph 4 of the WRC proposal) must be dealt with in a manner which has due regard to the right of the complainant and the person who is the subject of the complaint to fair procedure and natural justice. Those requirements oblige the parties to ensure that such complaints are dealt with in accordance with the procedures in place and published at the time of making of the complaint.
The Court recommends that the Institute engage separately and individually with the complainants and the persons who are the subject of complaint in each case to determine, without prejudice, whether they would voluntarily be in agreement to the complaints being dealt with in accordance with the procedure articulated in the Health and Safety Authority’s Guidelines for Bullying and Harassment in the Workplace’ appropriately adapted for a complaint involving a student and a member of the staff of the Institute. Wherever both the complainant(s) and the person who is the subject of complaint agree to this procedure being utilised the matter should be processed accordingly. Wherever any party does not so agree the matter should be processed in accordance with the policy in place and published at the time of making of the complaint.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
6th September, 2016.Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Ciaran Roche, Court Secretary.