SECTION 26(1), INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS ACT, 1990
HSE OFFICE OF THE CHIEF INFORMATION OFFICER
- AND -
(REPRESENTED BY FORSA)
|Employer Member:||Ms Connolly|
|Worker Member:||Ms Tanham|
1.On Call Arrangements Within Office Of The Chief Information Officer
The Office of the Chief Information Officer (‘CIO’) oversees the provision of IT services within the HSE. Offices and services are based in a number of locations around the country. Staff in the various locations are required to provide out-of-hours services an on-call basis. Prior to 2018, different local on-call policies applied. Commencing in 2014, extensive engagement took place between the Union (now Forsa) and the HSE with a view to standardising the on-call arrangements and payments for CIO nationally.
A national circular (Circular 008/2018) issued in February 2018 which provided for a retrospective implementation date of 1 August 2017 and a new higher on-call rate of €450.00 per 7 days on call. In 2019, the Union initiated a claim in relation to the implementation date of the new higher on-call rate.
A remote hearing of the Labour Court took place on the 24 September 2020.
The Union submits that the circular was issued without any prior consultation with it regarding the implementation date. It is seeking retrospective payment of the new higher on-call rate back to 2014 in respect of fifty to sixty workers it says had been paid significantly less than other colleagues in that period. In support of its claim, the Union cites the example of a specific group of IT workers who participated in a crisis management project in 2016 and who received the higher €450.00 per week on-call rate for the duration of that project. The Union is seeking arrears for the period May 2014 to August 2017 for the previously mentioned group of fifty to sixty workers who provided on-call services at a rate of pay below that now in place.
The HSE submits that the Union was party to all discussions up until the point the finalised business case was referred to the Department of Health and Children for approval. The business case was approved by the HSE on 25 July 2017 and by the Department on 29 September 2017 and this explains the implementation date of 1 August 2017 provided for in the Circular. The Circular, it submits, supersedes all previous arrangements. It is also submitted on behalf of the HSE that the crisis management project cited by the Union was a uniquely time- and politically-sensitive project. For this reason and in order to ensure that the project was delivered within time, a decision was taken to pay the higher rate retrospectively to the workers concerned. The HSE further submits that the within claim is cost-increasing and thereby precluded under section 8.3 of the PSSA. Finally, it also submits that the Union did not raise an issue about the Circular until 2019.
Circular 008/2018 issued in February 2018. However, the Union delayed taking any steps to initiate the within claim for retrospective payment for the 50 to 60 Members concerned for some nine months. Although, the Court queried this delay, it did not receive a clear explanation from the Union for it.
The Court fully accepts the HSE’s submission in relation to the cost-increasing nature of the claim.
For the foregoing reasons the Court does not recommend concession of the claim.
The Court so recommends.
|Signed on behalf of the Labour Court|
|28 October 2020||Deputy Chairman|
Enquiries concerning this Recommendation should be addressed to Noel Jordan, Court Secretary.