ADJUDICATION OFFICER RECOMMENDATION
Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00020172
A Clerk of Works
A Local Authority
Shay Clinton of Fórsa Trade Union
Keith Irvine of Local Government Management Agency (LGMA)
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: 17/12/2019
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Michael McEntee
In accordance with Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969following the referral of the complaint(s)/dispute(s) to me by the Director General, I inquired into the complaint(s)/dispute(s) and gave the parties an opportunity to be heard by me and to present to me any evidence relevant to the complaint(s)/dispute(s).
The issues in contention concern an allowance paid to a Clerk of Works in a Local Authority but now withdrawn. The Worker seeks reinstatement of the Allowance.
1: Summary of Worker’s Case:
The Worker has been a Clerk of Works (CoW) with the employing Authority since 1999. In May 2013, following the retirement of a colleague, the Worker assumed responsibility for Housing maintenance in the County Council area ( 850 houses) and later in the year for the former Urban Council area (650 Houses) bring the total to some 1,500 houses under his watch. In addition, he also assumed Line Manager responsibility for some five Housing Maintenance craft and operative staff.
His predecessor , also a CoW, held a Dual Duty allowance while in his post. The work now being undertaken by the Worker was of greater extent and in the light of the public finance crisis of the time, was a major contribution to the Council’s savings. He was effectively doing two persons jobs. His superior, Mr. XTB ,proposed in September 2016 that the Worker be paid the Dual Duty allowance with effect from the date of taking over the Urban housing stock as well as the Council stock. This proposal was eventually agreed to in September 2016. It was paid as a once off allowance and was not continued.
The Worker maintained strongly that the work continued unaltered and that the rationale for the extra allowance still remained. There was a strong case to be made for a straightforward upward regrading.
In Oral evidence ,in reply to questioning from the Employer Representative, the Worker maintained that two new staff recruited in to the Housing section since 2016 have little direct involvement with Housing maintenance and are in reality employed on other Housing Department work duties that have developed in recent years in response to various new schemes being advanced by Central Government. In summary the work of the Worker ,at the centre of this claim, has not altered or lessened and his entitlement to the extra allowance is as valid now as it was prior to 2016.
2: Summary of Employer’s Case:
The basis facts of the case were not in dispute. The Worker had taken on considerable extra work during the period from November 2013 to December 2016. He had been paid a “Dual Duties “ Allowance for this period in recognition of his work. The Payment of this type of allowance had now been effectively prohibited by Circular Letter of E.L.06 of 2012.
There was no new mechanism to pay an extra allowance and if the Worker were to receive an additional payment it would have to come about as a result of a competition for a Higher-grade post or indeed the Allowance. Normal Local Authority Rules and Regulations must apply.
Extra staff had been recruited into the Housing Section in 2016 and the extra work load argument of the Worker would have to be seen in this light.
The Allowance had been paid effectively as a “Once Off” – almost a type of gratuity for very good work done during 2013 to 2016 . It could not continue as it did not , in reality, have a sound regulatory basis .
In addition, the Worker was only one of many Workers who contributed largely to the Council during the financial crisis years.
3: Findings and Conclusions:
3:1 Written and significant Oral evidence was presented in this case. A full discussion of the case took place. There was no doubt that the Worker had made a very significant work contribution during the years of the crisis - 2013 to 2016.
The key questions remaining ,as of the end of 2019, were
1. How fundamentally has the job changed , particularly in regard to extra work load , with the amalgamation of Urban and Council Housing stock ?
2. If there was a major increase in work load does the position now, effectively, warrant an upward regrading ?
3. Did the recruitment of extra staff in late 2016 address the extra work load issue ?
4. What repercussive effects with other staff might flow , for the Employer, from any decision in this case. ?
The answers to these questions can only come from detailed local Industrial Relations discussions assisted by , if required, a detailed review of the current grading of the Position, almost a job evaluation , by an Independent body such as the Institute of Public Administration. An exercise from the IPA can form part , if necessary, of a Business Case for Sanction that may have to be made.
This will take time and the question of the ongoing payment of the allowance must be considered.
A Recommendation must take account of basic Natural Justice and Equity and having considered all the factors and in particular the evidence presented I am Recommending that
1. 50% of the allowance be paid to the Worker concerned for the period from January 2017 to December 2019.
2. The 50% payment to continue from January 2020 forward until such time as the local Industrial Relations exercise including the expert job evaluation/regrading assistance of the IPA ,if required, referred to above, is concluded.
3. A deadline of 31st of March 2021 to be put on this process.
4. The balance of the Allowance i.e. the remaining 50%, can be considered as in Irish “ Faoi Bhreithniu” - (under consideration ) until the discussions conclude.
5. This Recommendation is strictly limited to the facts of this case and has no bearing on any other cases or circumstances in this or any other Local Authority.
Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts, 1969 requires that I make a recommendation in relation to the dispute.
I formally Recommend as follows.
- 50% of the allowance concerned ( or its cash equivalent) be paid to the Worker concerned for the period from January 2017 to December 2019.
- The 50% payment to continue from January 2020 forward until such time as the local Industrial Relations exercise including the expert job evaluation/regrading assistance of the IPA ,if required, referred to above, is concluded.
- A deadline of 31st of March 2021 to be put on this process.
- The balance of the Allowance i.e. the remaining 50%, can be considered as in Irish “ Faoi Bhreithniu” - (under consideration ) until the discussions conclude.
- This Recommendation is strictly limited to the facts of this case and can have no bearing on any other cases or circumstances in this or any other Local Authority.
Dated: 4th March 2020
Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Michael McEntee