ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00018550
A Training Officer
A public body
Dispute Reference No.
Date of Receipt
Dispute seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969
Date of Adjudication Hearing: 03/05/2019
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Kevin Baneham
In accordance with 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.
Summary of the Worker’s Case:
The worker’s employment with a predecessor of the employer started in 1994. She moved to the Training Officer role in 2012. At this time, the worker was on the ‘Social Care Manager’ scale and was at the top of the scale. This was commensurate with point 3 of the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale. She did not replace anyone on transferring to the role. The worker sought an acting up allowance, but this was not resolved. She is paid less than the existing training officers.
The worker outlined that she incurred a shortfall of about €16,000 per year. There were negotiations and conciliation in respect of the wider issue. She said that the new Training Officers are on the Grade VII scale. There had been 16 Social Work Team Leaders in 2012 and she was not sure how many were still in the workforce.
The worker outlined that she had been headhunted for the role and was led to believe that she would move scale after the end of the moratorium. The new scale was introduced in 2014 and she sought the acting up allowance on the advice of management. In 2016, she sought the acting up allowance and regularisation. She was told by HR that she did not qualify because she was permanently in post.
The worker outlined that she has exhausted all internal avenues. When she was asked to move, she had been in an acting role and would have had access to a higher salary scale and regularisation. She made career decisions based on eventually moving to the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale.
Summary of the Employer’s Case:
The employer outlined that the worker was not entitled to regularisation as she transferred at her current grade during the moratorium and did not fill a vacancy in a role attached to the Social Work Team Leader scale. It outlined that regularisation was targeted at those in a ‘vacancy’. The worker’s role was not frontline and was an additional resource being offered to the team. There were 12 remaining Social Work Team Leaders.
The employer submitted that the worker was not entitled to be paid at the rate equivalent to the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale. It submitted that during the moratorium, there was an expression of interest process for filling non-frontline roles where transfers could occur without backfilling. It outlined that regularisation was open to staff filling a vacancy at a higher level. The worker was deemed not eligible as she had not filled such a vacancy. The employer stated that there was no record of the process for the worker’s transfer in 2012. It was, however, clear that she transferred during the moratorium at her current grade with her terms and conditions of employment intact. It submits that the worker could have returned to a residential manager role, although it was not clear whether this was offered to her.
The employer outlined that following the end of the moratorium, it filled training officer posts at the grade VII level. It outlines that the current workforce learning and development officers are mainly grade VII, although there are some grade VIs. It offered to re-grade the complainant as a grade VII and had hoped that the complainant’s situation could have been addressed as part of a wider arrangement. Regularisation is not available in this instance as the worker did not fill a substantive vacancy. The employer indicated that it was open to constructive discussions regarding grading structures in this area.
Findings and Conclusions:
The worker has been doing the training officer role since 2012. She remains on the ‘Social Care Manager’ pay scale, despite no longer performing this function. She worked with colleagues, who were on a different scale, the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale. The worker wrote to the respondent on the 23rd May 2016, asking that she be assimilated to the grade of name colleagues pursuant to Labour Court recommendation 21104. The moratorium came to an end and the situation is further complicated as new training officers are recruited on a different pay scale altogether, i.e. the Grade VII scale. The email of the 30th April 2019 submitted to the adjudication sets out the relevant scales.
The worker outlined that she was asked to move to the training officer role on the understanding that she would change pay scales once the moratorium came to an end. The employer does not deny that this undertaking was made to the worker, although points to the lack of information about this process. The worker states that when she transferred to the training officer role, she was acting up in her previous role, so would have benefitted from regularisation had she stayed there. She moved roles, but unable to obtain pay progression, in particular on the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale.
The situation is complicated as there are colleagues doing the same job, but on different pay scales. This is further complicated as the training officer roles are now under the auspices of a new statutory body, and further recruitment has taken place. In assessing this case, I am guided by the Labour Court decision in Health Service Executive v A Worker LCR 22085. Here, the Court addressed a situation where an employee was doing a role consistent with that performed by others at a different grade. The Court recommended that the worker be placed on the scale appropriate to the role she carried out. It held that there was a ‘disconnect’ between the role carried out by the worker and her grade. It further noted the longstanding nature of the worker’s grievance and recommended compensation of €7,500.
In this case, the worker worked with colleagues who were able to progress through their pay scale, but this was not accessible to her. In 2016, she sought to address this situation through regularisation, although this was held not to be applicable. The key question in this case is whether the worker was doing the same role as her colleagues on the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale, in particular the colleagues named in the letter of 23rd May 2016. The respondent’s submission refers to another health sector employer employing training officers on this scale with a particular qualification and registration. The question, however, in this case, is whether the worker’s peers, i.e. those on the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale were doing the same job. If so, the worker should be on this pay scale.
It is beyond the scope of this adjudication to determine whether the worker did the same role as her peers on the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale. I, therefore, recommend that the employer assess whether the worker is doing an equivalent role to peer training officers on the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale. If this is the case, the worker should be transferred to the appropriate point on this scale.
I note that the worker has raised this issue for several years, to no avail. I also note that her line managers actively sought to resolve this matter, but unfortunately, this did not lead to a resolution. The worker, however, incurred loss in pursuing this matter and I recommend redress of €7,500.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.
I recommend that the employer assess the role undertaken by the worker to ascertain whether it is equivalent to that undertaken by colleagues on the ‘Social Work Team Leader’ scale and if this is the case, the worker should transfer to the appropriate point on this pay scale. I further recommend that the worker be paid compensation of €7,500 for the delay in addressing this anomaly.
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Kevin Baneham
Industrial Relations Act
Health Service Executive v A Worker LCR 22085