ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00005706
An Area Manager
A 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: Gaye Cunningham
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act 1969 following the referral of the complaint to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint.
The complainant contends that she has been demoted by a change in her reporting relationships.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
Up to 2015 the management structure in the workplace included a Service Manager with 4 Area Managers including the complainant. The Area Manager grading had been agreed in 2009. On 16th February 2015, a new Services Manager met with the complainant and her colleagues and inter alia advised them that a new CNM3 was being recruited to support the Area Managers. The Area Managers had accepted that there was a deficit in governance and had accepted the new grade which was after all being employed to support them in their role. However, some time later during a HIQA inspection, it was suggested by the Inspector that the new CNM3s were in fact line managers to the Area Managers. Later, despite a meeting with HR in which the Area Managers were assured that there was no change, it was clear that the role was changed. In July 2014, the complainant and her colleagues had raised the matter of a review of their roles and responsibilities in light of increased workload and onerous responsibilities and required an urgent review. However, the imposition of CNM3 as a line manager has impacted on the claimant’s career possibilities. The claimant is a Registered Intellectual Disability Nurse. She was on the second line of the management hierarchy before the new CNM3 Grade was introduced. She has worked as Area Manager for 14 years and she believes the post to which she was appointed has been abolished. She sought a retirement package but this was rejected.
Management obviously intended to change the governance function but did not consult or engage with the complainant. They engaged in subterfuge by telling the Area Managers they were bringing in a new grade to support them. The restoration of the complainant to her position as the second most senior manager in the service reporting directly to the Service s Manager is requested and an appropriate grading should be agreed. It is also requested that the responsibility for PIC (Person in Charge) be removed from her.
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
In 2008, following a claim for CNM3, a settlement regraded the complainant to Clerical Grade 7, with the settlement agreement clearly stating that the claim for CNM3 was ‘null and void’. The clause in relation to duties and responsibilities stated that “you will report to Ms M Head of Residential Services”. The complainant received ‘red circled’ allowances which means her rate of pay exceptionally exceeds CNM3. From 2013 the complainant also operated as Person in Charge (PIC) as required by new HIQA regulations as it was deemed that her role was the appropriate one to perform this role. In October 2014 the complainant along with three colleagues raised concerns with regard to their workload, looking for support and in particular, extra resources. Several meetings took place in 2014 and 2015 around the introduction of CNM3s to support the Area Managers particularly in light of the introduction of new regulations. It was also discussed that new PICs would be introduced to reduce the span of workload of the Area Managers. This was to address the concerns of the complainant and her colleagues and also in light of HIQA developments. These discussions furthermore took place at a time when evidence of poor practice throughout the residential service was brought to light by HIQA reports and highlighted in the national media. At all times the complainant and her colleagues were consulted and were aware that the CNM3s and PICs were being advertised. They did not apply. The posts are clinical positions that were identified following a review of governance and poor HIQA outcomes. The additional PIC resources, increasing the number from 4 to 7 were advertised as CNM2 posts and these have reduced the workload of the complainant as had been requested. As a result of the new service model, the complainant reports in to the CNM3 who reports to the Services Manager. This is a key requirement for governance and best standards of care towards the service users and is in line with guidelines issued by national bodies. It is not a demotion and all terms and conditions have been retained. The respondent further argues that under the PSA, all health service employees are required to work to provide the best quality public service. One of the leading clauses underpinning the Croke Park Agreement and its successors is Clause 1.4 which states:
“the parties recognise that efficiencies will need to be maximised and productivity in the use of resources greatly increased through revised work practices and other initiatives”.
The respondent argues that this is the exact type of flexibility and normal ongoing change as envisaged by the Public Service Agreements.
This dispute arose from a structural change in the employment of the complainant. This involved, from the complainant’s point of view, another layer of management being imposed between her and the Services Manager. The respondent has made cogent arguments as to why the change was necessary, not least of which was the existence of the HIQA reports. From the evidence, it appears that the new CNM3 role is a clinical role. However, the reporting relationships as they affected the complainant and her Area Manager colleagues were not made entirely clear from the outset. While the logic of the organisation structure might seem clear to the respondent, it is significant that the contract of the complainant has been unilaterally changed without her agreement. In the future the respondent will no doubt ensure that any further Area Managers should report to the CNM3. I note that the complainant sought a retirement package and the respondent may wish to re-visit this issue in light of changes required. However, in the meantime, as the contract of employment and the revised one following the agreement in 2009 states that the reporting relationship is with the Residential Services Manager, I recommend that the complainant report to the Services Manager on a ‘red circle’ basis. I note the evidence that the creation of the extra PICs should alleviate the workload of the complainant and her colleagues and on this basis, I recommend that the complainant agrees to fill the role of PIC.
Dated: 13 July 2017
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Gaye Cunningham