SECTION 13(9), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1969
HOUSES OF THE OIREACHTAS COMMISSION
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY SERVICES INDUSTRIAL PROFESSIONAL TECHNICAL UNION)
Chairman: Ms Jenkinson
Employer Member: Mr Murphy
Worker Member: Ms O'Donnell
1. Appeal of Adjudication Officer Recommendation No. ADJ-00000126.
2. This matter was referred to an Adjudication Officer for investigation and Recommendation. On the 4 August 2016 the Adjudication Officer issued the following Recommendation:-
- "The Respondent shall pay to the complainant the amount of compensation equivalent to the amount required for him to purchase 7 years of service with the respondent Non-Established State Employees pension scheme, as compensation for the misrepresentation made to him by the Respondent regarding the transfer of service for pension purposes”.
The Employer appealed the Adjudication Officer’s Recommendation to the Labour Court on the 14 September 2016 in accordance with Section 13(9) of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969.
A Labour Court hearing took place on the 9 December 2016.
This is an appeal by the employer against an Adjudication Officer’s Recommendation which found in favour of the Claimant’s claim regarding pension entitlements. The Adjudication Officer found that the Employer had made a “misrepresentation” to him regarding the transfer of service from a previous pension scheme. He recommended that the Employer should pay the Claimant compensation equivalent to the amount required to purchase seven years of service for him in the Non-Established State Employees' Pension Scheme.
SIPTU on behalf of the Claimant submitted that when the Claimant, employed as a Printer, transferred from the employment of Fianna Fáil to the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission Print Facility in 2007, he was given an assurance from the then Personnel Officer that the service he said he had accrued under his Fianna Fáil pension (from 1992 until 2002) would be transferred to his new public sector pension - the Non-Established State Employees' Pension Scheme - on a “knock-for-knock” basis i.e. year-for-year basis. During the period between 2002 and 2007 all of the political parties printing facilities were centralised in the Dáil and Printers were included in the Pension Scheme for Secretarial Assistance.
The Employer disputed the Claimant’s assertion and stated that:
•He was not given an assurance that the ten years’ service in question would be reckonable for pensionable service but rather he was given an assurance that the matter of transferring the value of his pensionable service under the Fianna Fáil Scheme for those years would be explored; and
•it was not possible legally to transfer such service into the Non-Established State Employees' Pension Scheme as transfers are governed by the Department of Finance rules and regulations on transferring pension entitlements – the Pension Scheme Transfer Network (PSTN) 1997 - and, as Fianna Fáil is not a member of that network, such a transfer was not legally possible.
The Employer stated that an evaluation of the Claimant’s accrued benefits under the Fianna Fáil Scheme was undertaken with a view to transferring the benefits into the Non-Established State Employee’s Pension Scheme. This value equated to 1.3458 years of service in the Non-Established State Employees' Pension Scheme. The Claimant was given the option to transfer such value into the Scheme. He declined to do so but opted instead to pursue the within claim.
Having given careful consideration to the submissions by both parties and the extensive documentation furnished to the Court, the Court’s understanding of the position is as follows: the Claimant enquired in 2007 about the possibility of transferring his ten years’ service with Fianna Fáil, the Personnel Officer concerned committed to looking into the matter and he arranged for the Claimant to meet with the person responsible for pension matters in the Houses of the Oireachtas Commission, Mr C. On 23 April 2007 Mr. C wrote to Fianna Fail seeking to establish the Claimant’s accumulated pension entitlements while he was employed by the political party with a view to the possibility of transferring those benefits into the Non-Established State Employees' Pension Scheme. Details were provided giving the current value at the time. This transfer value was then used to calculate service in the Non-Established State Employees' Pension Scheme and that worked out at 1.3458 years. It was accepted that this exercise took place at the time.
Therefore in all the circumstances of this case, the Court cannot be satisfied that the Claimant was given a commitment that his ten years’ service accrued between 1992 and 2002 while employed with Fianna Fáil nor his pensionable service accrued between 1997 and 2002 under the Fianna Fáil Scheme would be reckonable on a “knock-for-knock” basis under the Non-Established State Employees' Pension Scheme.
Accordingly, the Court does not uphold the Claimant’s claim. The Adjudication Officer’s Recommendation is overturned and Employer’s appeal is upheld.
The Court so Decides.
Signed on behalf of the Labour Court
18 January 2017Deputy Chairman
Enquiries concerning this Decision should be addressed to Louise Shally, Court Secretary.