ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00005560
Health Service Provider
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: 02/05/2017
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: John Walsh
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969 following the referral of the dispute to me by the Director General, I inquired into the dispute and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the dispute.
The Complainant is employed with the Respondent since the 8th of August 2007. He has sought to be regularised to a Grade VIII level based on his work experience with the Respondent. He alleges that he has made no progress in achieving this objective and he filed a complaint with the Workplace Relations Commission on the 17th of October 2016.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
The following is summary of the Complainant’s submission as outlined by his representative.
The Complainant has been employed by the Respondent at Grade VI since 2007. Since 2010 he has been carrying out the duties appropriate to a Grade VIII Officer and applied to have this position regularised under the Terms of Circular 107/2013. The outcome of that process resulted in him being regularised at Grade VII in January 2015.
In September 2014, the Complainant took on the role of business manager in the National Office, where he worked. In December 2014, he wrote to T.O’C, a National Director, pointing out that his role was at Grade VIII level elsewhere in the organisation and requested to be placed at that Grade on an acting basis pending permanent filling of the post. Following D.O’C’s resignation in 2015, the Complainant sought to pursue this matter with his line manager without success. The Respondent’s position was that he was not carrying out the Business Manager’s role.
Arising from this, and other issues, the Complainant requested a transfer in February 2015 and was reassigned to Project Manager on the 27th of April 2015. On the 28th of April 2015, his replacement was given the title of Business Manager.
On the 19th of October 2015, the Complainant wrote to HR requesting an explanation for the change in grading on his departure. The Respondent stated that he had not requested the reassignment.
In November 2015, the Complainant applied for one of three Business Manager roles but was not considered eligible for interview.
It is the Complainant’s contention that he had been carrying out the duties of Grade VIII in the roles held by him in 2010 to April 2015 and that he should have had this recognised through the regularisation process. This difficulty was compounded by the refusal of the Respondent to recognise his position of Business Manager in his place of work until after his departure.
The Complainant is seeking recognition in relation to his grievance and compensation in relation to the loss of earnings involved.
The Complainant requested that he be allowed to read the following brief submission at the hearing;
‘The first opportunity he had to be regularised as a Grade VIII (Backdated to 2010) was in December 2013. He applied for this as his role changed when the network manager resigned the post and this resulted in more duties being delegated to him. He was not happy with the process for deciding his eligibility. Part of this was a meeting with no prior warning with two managers to explain why he thought he should be given a Grade VIII. Although he was not happy with how this was dealt with, he had little alternative but to accept the regularisation at Grade VII level.
The second opportunity to be made a Grade VIII began when he was asked at short notice in September 2014 to provide support/cover in his place of work which was severely understaffed due to staff being on leave or having left the division. The office remained understaffed until January 2015 due to other staff not joining the office until their regularisation process was completed. He was in the role of Office Manager/ Business Manager for over three months but was not offered the role of Grade VIII in an acting capacity despite the existence of an acting policy. He requested a review of other National Offices to ascertain if Office Manager is a Business Manager (Grade VIII level). He also agreed with D.O’C to work one day a week on a redesign programme which he had planned to base his M.Sc. thesis on.
He requested a transfer/secondment from his position in January 2015. This was due to the information he was given in relation to his role in the office, the lack of prospects for his career development and ongoing dignity in the workplace issues. He was not offered an exit interview when he left that office. He was offered a role in the performance improvement programme in the office and had applied through the expressions of interest competition that the organisation ran. He completed the handover of his work with the project manager who was taking over the role.
A few days after he left his position, the title of the role he was in was changed to Business Manager. He was never offered the role of Business Manager in the office prior to leaving the office in April 2015. The role of Business Manager was then advertised as three permanent positions (General Manager) level in November 2015’.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
The following is a summary of the Respondent’s submission:
This case relates to a historical request for regularisation by the Complainant from a Grade VI to a Grade VIII that was declined at Grade VIII level but was approved and implemented at Grade VII. The Complainant lodged a subsequent claim for a further upgrade to a Grade VIII post linked to a claim to the title of ‘Business Manager’ arising from an initial short-term reassignment at Grade VII level that evolved into a redeployment in line with the Respondent’s reconfiguration.
The Complainant states that he first applied for his role to be regularised as a Grade VIII in December 2013 and that he was not happy with the process for approval of the regularisation application which in his experience was in some part determined by interpersonal relationships.
This regularisation was carried out in line with the process for approval outlined in HR circular 01/7213. The Complainant initially requested regularisation as a Grade VIII. Under the process, his direct line manager, the Area Manager alongside the Regional Director of Performance and Integration concurred that the role and responsibilities held by the Complainant were at Grade VII rather than at Grade VIII level and that the proposed regularisation was subsequently endorsed and processed by Human Resources. The Compliant subsequently indicated that he was ‘happy’ to receive the regularisation to Grade VII. The suggestion that the process was in some part determined by interpersonal relationships is both unsubstantiated and refuted. It should be noted that the Complainant did not avail of the agreed Appeal Process.
The Complainant indicated that he requested a further review of other National Office Posts to ascertain if the Office Manager post which was offered was at Grade VIII level.
It is unclear from the documentation to whom the aforementioned “further review of other National Offices posts of Office Manager and/or Business Manager” was sought. None the less it must be noted that office manager and business manager posts exist at many grade levels within the organisation. The grade level of each post arises from the divisional specific organisational structure, governance arrangements, the level and scale of responsibility of the post within the context of the other grades that exist. It should be noted that the role and responsibilities being undertaken by the Complainant were not at the level commensurate with Grade VIII posts in the other divisions.
The Complainant states that he was in the role of Office Manager/ Business Manager for over three months prior to other staff beginning work in the office and he queried whether this role should have been advertised as a competition in accordance with the acting-up policy.
It is clear from the e-mail from the Deputy National Director to his line manager dated the 5th of September 2014 that the original arrangement was intended to be interim short term ‘admin cover’ until staff returned from leave rather than the establishment of a new Office/ Business Manager role. It is also clear from the e-mail exchange between the Complainant and his line-manager on the 9th of September 2014 that there were other staff working in the Office and efforts were being made to secure additional resources. It is unclear with whom the Complainant raised the query in relation to whether this role should have been advertised as a competition in accordance with the acting-up policy. However it is very clear that this is a situation which emerged arising from the transition of structural changes within the organisation.
He was advised by the line-manager that the role was “not a business manager but office manager at Grade VI level”.
At the time, the Complainant’s substantive post was at Grade VI level, however his line manager had confirmed the assignment in the division as being at Grade VII. The title was confirmed as Office Manager, however, it should be noted that this was an interim arrangement. In an e-mail dated the 3rd of October 2014, the Complainant refers to the role as Office Manager. On the 14th of October 2014, his line manager received formal confirmation in relation to staff reassigned from the RDPI office, that includes the complainant. Further correspondence of the same date indicates the view that it would take a little time to determine the roles and functions of individual staff members.
However, the day after he left, the role is upgraded to a Business Manager role. He was never offered the role of Business Manager prior to him leaving the office in 2015.
No ‘upgradings’ took place. Following a recruitment drive by the acute hospital division, hospitals were filled through expression of interest, some of the roles required reconfiguration and a change in the assignment of duties. This was clarified to the Complainant in the letter from the HR manager, dated the 2nd of November 2015.
He believes this is further evidence of being treated with a lack of dignity in the workplace and the withholding of information has had an implication on his career progression.
The events that occurred were circumstantial and arising from a period of turbulent change within the organisation and while they may have impacted the complainant and this is regrettable, there was no intention to treat the Complainant with a lack of dignity in the workplace at any time and the employer’s view is that the events described do not meet the definitions contained within the Dignity at Work policy.
He disputed the claims in the response of the 2nd of November 2015 as the reason he sought reassignment were not addressed.
The Complainant states that the reason that he sought reassignment was that his position in the office was untenable due to the lack of career prospects. The Complainant had equal access to all the promotional opportunities that were available. The Complainant also states that he applied for three business manager roles in and was not considered eligible for interview. These roles were at the Grade level of General Manager and were filled through open competition with an independent chair in line with the requirements of the Commission for Public Service Appointments, Code of Practice for Appointments to Positions in the Civil Service and Public Service through which there is an appeal mechanism available. The Complainant was also granted financial support to participate in a Masters with the IPA that included day release or a Masters with TCD that did not include day release. He opted for the latter.
The Complainant requests to be regularised as a Grade VIII as per original application in December 2013.
The regularisation was carried out in line with the process for approval as outlined in HR circular 017 2013. Under the process, his Direct Line Manager, the Area Manager alongside the Regional Director of Performance and Integration concurred that the role and responsibilities held by the Complainant were at Grade VII rather than at Grade VIII level and the proposed regularisation was subsequently endorsed and processed by the Human Resources. The Respondent maintains this position and disputes the claim made. The Complainant accepted the Grade VII post.
Findings and Conclusions:
The original claim for regularisation from Grade VI to Grade VIII was declined under HR circular 017213. The Complainant was approved to be regularised and implemented at Grade VII. The Complainant formally accepted the Grade VII level through the acceptance of a new contract.
It appears that the Complainant is making an assumption that the title ‘Business Manager’ at National level is singularly correlated with a Grade VIII post. The current ‘Business Manager’ post is at Grade VII level and not at Grade VIII. There are also Business Manager posts at general manager level working within the Operations, Planning and Clinical Care workstreams. The Grade level of each post arises from the divisional specific organisation structure, governance arrangements and the level and scale of the responsibility of the post within the context of the other Grades that exist. The post that the Complainant held for the period September 2014 to April 2015 was Grade VII Office Manager.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.
Based on the evidence presented by both parties I find that this complaint is not well-founded. The Complainant does not have an entitlement to be regularised at a Grade VIII level.
Dated: 17th July 2017
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: John Walsh