Case Number: ADJ-00000063. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ-00000063
Date01 March 2016
PartiesAn Employee -v- An Employer
ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION

A Worker V An Employer

Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00000063

Complaint(s)/Dispute(s) for Resolution:

Act

Complaint/Dispute Reference No.

Date of Receipt

Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1946

CA-00000098-001

06/10/2015

Date of Adjudication Hearing: 29/01/2016

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Gerry Rooney

Procedure:

In accordance with Section 41(4) of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 [and section of the Industrial Relations Act, following 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.

Complainant’s Submission and Presentation:

This claim refers to the alleged failure of the employer to implement equally it’s proposal made in 2007 to apply an independent evaluation of the appropriate grade for HR Managers in the Respondent’s PCCCS (community service), a proposal which was accepted by IMPACT Trade Union. The Claim specifically refers to the subsequent alleged inconsistencies applied in relation to the incremental progression of eight managers at Grade VIII salary. The Claimant who is one of three of the eight managers who have complained they have been unfairly treated.

As the Claimant is one of three managers with an identical claim, the three Claimants and the Respondent agreed that the claim could be heard and responded to in unison. Notwithstanding, and in accordance with the fact that the claims are made separately, a separate report is issued for each Claimant.

The Claimant is employed as HR manager within the North Eastern Region of the Respondent. The Claimant contends that a proposal was made in 2006 by the then National HR Director that the Claimant would be appointed as a Grade VIII with an understanding that an evaluation of the appropriate grade for the job would be completed, and where the National HR Director at that time affirmed that the appropriate grade for the role was Grade VIII. In July 2007 the Claimant was appointed to Grade VIII along with eight other managers. However incremental progression was not applied to him since his appointment, whereas it was applied to five of the other managers appointed. The Claimant argued that this decision amounts to a substantial financial loss to him (circa €65,656).

The Claimant argued that over the years he attempted to address the issue with the Respondent and on 23 September 2015 he received a formal response which rejected his claim. As this was the first formal response from the Respondent the Claimant progressed the claim to the WRC at that stage.

The Claimant also argued that a review of the organisation’s IT personnel record system would show that he was de facto appointed to a Grade VIII position from 2007. This argument is based on the fact that the IT system shows a specific appointment number against his position, and that number had to be created as there was no acting up position to fill, and therefore he was promoted to a new appointment. In effect the Claimant relies on this record as demonstrating that a new substantive Grade VIII position was created for him. The Claimant further argued the appointment would have been recorded differently if he was only in an acting role. The Claimant contended that the other five HR managers were not only treated as being appointed to a substantive Grade VIII position, but they were also paid incremental payments from their appointment in July 2007. This he believes further demonstrates that it was not an acting role or an acting allowance would have been applied in accordance with Circular letter 10/71 (and a subsequent acting up policy issued in January 2010).

The Claimant also argued that a letter from the National Director of HR on 10 July 2006 stated that "one national approach is required". Therefore he contended that all eight HR managers should have been treated equally, but this did not happen. The Claimant did not qualify for any incremental payments until 2013, unlike the other five managers who were paid upon their appointment in 2007. Furthermore the Claimant contended that section 2.8 of the employer’s agreement (HAS) of the 2010 Public Service Agreements (PSA) states that all previous agreements, collective are otherwise, or recommendations by industrial relations bodies remain intact. On that basis, irrespective of any further industrial relations agreements that applied since his appointment in 2007, the Claimant argued that he has been denied his incremental entitlements, an entitlement that was afforded to five other HR managers who were appointed at the same time as him.

The Claimant also contended that the Respondent had in fact paid incremental payments to other staff who were in acting up positions in the North East Area during the time, and he presented evidence from the payroll manager which in general confirmed this to be the case. It was therefore argued that there were irregularities within the area the Claimant worked.

The Claimant referred to Labour Court decision AD1344 which was issued on 13th May 2013 where it found that the HSE has more frequently applied, than not applied, incremental credit to staff acting in grade 8 posts. The reasons for granting or withholding incremental credit appear to be quite random and inconsistent.

As the HSE, in the majority of cases, has in the past and continues at present to award incremental credit to staff acting in grade 8 posts, the Court finds no grounds for the withholding of it in this case. Accordingly the Court decides that the Worker’s claim has merit and that he should, in equity, be moved to the 5th point of the relevant scale…” The Claimant argued his case had similar merits and therefore should be treated in the same manner as the Labour Court decision, and furthermore the Respondent failed to rectify this matter following the Labour Court decision.

Subsequently, following a national agreement in 2013, the Claimant was advised that he was formally appointed to the Grade VIII role and only from that time would his increments apply. He advised the Respondent offered at that time to pay him at the top of the Grade VIII scale, backdated to October 2013 which is the date for those regularised under circular letter 17/2013, but he has not accepted this believing his claim is not covered by circular letter 17/2013 and as it goes back to 2007 should be recognised in its own right.

As such the Claimant is seeking recovery of his remuneration in relation to the increments he believes he should have received since his appointment to the Grade VIII role. This claim therefore amounts to €65,656.

Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:

The Respondent acknowledged there was an agreement in 2007 regarding eight HR Officers who worked in PCCCS but were deployed across a number of regional areas of its business. The Respondent also acknowledged that there was a need to regularise the situation as HR Officers were operating at different grades within the system at the time. The Respondent confirmed that in July 2007, in order to redress the situation, the then National Director of HR issued a letter recommending the HR managers were to be remunerated at Grade VIII as an interim, backdating this from January 2005, and this was to be followed by an evaluation of the most appropriate grade for the role. The Respondent confirmed that the Claimant was remunerated in an acting capacity from January 2005, where he remained as an acting Grade VIII until July 2013 when, in accordance with circular letter 017/2013, his appointment to a substantive role was made on a cost neutral basis. In accordance with the circular letter the Claimant was only then entitled to accrue increments.

The Respondent acknowledged that due to a moratorium that was imposed in 2007 as a result of the changing economic circumstances, the evaluation process was suppressed/suspended and ultimately replaced...

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