ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00023731
A Centre Manager
A Day Centre
Eddie Walsh Fórsa Trade Union
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: 25/10/2019
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Úna Glazier-Farmer
In accordance with Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 and Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969following 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 a Programme Manager for Day Services with a Section 38 Funded Organisation. She commenced employment with the Respondent on 23 February 2015 and received a permanent contract on 24 October 2016.
The Complainant seeks parity of grade with that she argues her colleagues holding the same post.
Summary of Complainant’s Case:
The Complainant provided written submissions at the hearing together with clear evidence of the Grades of other Programme Managers for Day Centres.
The Complainant wrote to her Line Manager on 12 July 2018 after she became aware that some of her colleagues, also Programme Managers for Day Centres, were on a higher Grade.
Between July 2018 and August 2019, the Complainant together with her union representative sought to resolve the issue internally with the Respondent.
It is the Complainant’s case that she does like for like work with her colleagues in the different centres around the country. Evidence was presented setting out the Grades of four other Programme Managers of Day Centres. Of the four comparators, all received a higher salary than the Complainant, with three holding a Grade VIII post. The fourth comparator holds a Director of Nursing Band 4 post with a lower salary but a salary nonetheless higher than that of the Complainant. It is noted that two subsequently posts for Programme Manager of Day Centres, were filled at the Grade VIII position following the appointment of the Complainant. It was also submitted that Complainant has a larger geographical area than some of her colleagues.
In August 2019, the parties agreed that a business case would be submitted to the HSE in support of the Complainant’s claim. At the hearing the Respondent presented an email as evidence of the refusal by the HSE of the business case submitted by the Respondent. This email was not furnished after the hearing date despite been requested to do so.
The Complainant relied on ADJ – 00002897, ADJ -00007234, West/North West Hospital Group (HSE) v Irish Municipal Public and Civil Trade Union, LCR 20862, Cork University Dental School and Hospital v a Worker (LCR 19856).
Summary of Respondent’s Case:
Regrettably the Interim HR Manager nor the Complainant’s Line Manager were present at the hearing despite being the writers of the correspondence. It should also be noted that time was allowed to the Respondent to contact these individual to attend. Neither party attended. Additional time was given to the Respondent to clarify instructions considering the absence of key witnesses.
The Respondent provided written submission at the hearing. The Respondent accepted that the Complainant had compiled with its internal Grievance Procedure before referring the matter to the Workplace Relations Commission. No copy of the Grievance Procedure was produced at the hearing.
It was stated from the outset that there was no ill will between the parties
It was submitted that the Complainant was offered a permanent contract which she accepted, in October 2016. Her salary, in that contract, reflected a point 6 of a 6-point scale on the relevant salary scale. The Respondent submitted that the Complainant in signing her contract of employment was fully aware of the scale and accepted the terms and conditions attached including the applicable salary grading.
The Respondent outlined a timeline of events from the first receipt of the grievance in 12 July 2018, the General Manager’s escalation to the Interim HR Director on 19 July 2018, a status update by the Complainant on 20 September 2018 and the General Manager’s reply on 5 November 2018 stating there was a meeting with the relevant Department on the matter. It is noted that on 5 February 2019 the Complainant’s representative wrote to the Interim HR Director seeking the matter be resolved with a follow up letter in May 2019. On 13 August 2019 the parties met, and it was agreed that a business case would be submitted to the relevant State Body by the Respondent “for approval to create a Grade 8 post” for the Complainant and the matter be referred to the Workplace Relations Commission.
It was submitted by the Respondent at the hearing that it was not simply a matter of job title. It was submitted that there was a difference in day services and numbers at the day centre. The Operations Manager gave evidence that any pay increase would have to be accounted for within the local budget, which was currently in deficit. He submitted that the funding was simply not there to support the Complainant’s claim. It was accepted by the Operations Manager that if the business case was to succeed that it would mean two things; firstly, a provision for an addition Grade VIII contract and secondly, the additional funding would be made available to meet that contract.
The HR Officer gave evidence of following up with the relevant State Body of the business case in the days prior to the hearing. An email response was received from the State Body which was produced at the hearing and their refusal was noted for the first time. The HR Officer stated that the information presented by the Complainant as regards her comparators was not available to the Respondent for the preparation of the business case. Upon investigation the HR Officer gave evidence that she had attempted to contact two of the centres listed after the business case was submitted.
Findings and Conclusions:
Having carefully considered the submissions of both parties to this dispute I find that the Complainant’s case is not seeking a pay increase but pay parity.
It is not accepted that the despite agreeing to making a business case that it made reasonable efforts to set out the case in full to the State Body nor did it seek to gather relevant facts to present to that State Body, facts that were within their remit.
It is accepted that the evidence presented by the Complainant and in particular that her colleagues are in receipt of a higher pay grade, namely Grade VIII and she is entitled to pay parity. There is no logical reason presented as to why the rate for the same post occupied by the Complainant should differ from that of her colleagues.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.
In the circumstances, I recommend that the Complainant’s grade be brought in line with that of a Grade VIII with effect from the date of this Recommendation.
Dated: 4th December 2019
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Úna Glazier-Farmer
Industrial Relations – Pay Parity – Grade