Case Number: ADJ-00000126-01. Workplace Relations Commission

CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
Docket NumberADJ-00000126-01
Date04 August 2016
PartiesEmployer v Employee

Adjudication Decision Reference: ADJ-00000126

Dispute for Resolution:


Dispute Reference No.

Date of Receipt

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


12th October 2015

Date of Adjudication Hearing: 29th January 2016

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Kevin Baneham

  1. On the 12th October 2015, the complainant referred a dispute pursuant to the Industrial Relations Acts to the Workplace Relations Commission for adjudication. The complainant is a printer and the respondent is a public body.

  2. The dispute was scheduled for adjudication on the 29th January 2016. The complainant attended the hearing and he was represented by a union official. A work colleague accompanied the complainant as witness. The respondent was represented by a Human Resources Manager and two officials from an interested Government Department attended the adjudication.

  3. At the outset of the adjudication, I indicated that I had worked at the public body concerned and that I had also never been directly employed by the respondent. I left this role in 2005.

  4. In accordance with the Industrial Relations Acts and 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:
  1. The complaint relates to the complainant’s pension entitlements, in particular the number of years of service attributed to him. In 1992, he commenced working as a printer and was employed by a political party. As part of reforms of the respondent, the printing service operated by each political party was centralised. In terms of his own employment, the complainant outlined that between 1992 and 2002 he had been directly employed by a political party and worked off-site. Between 2003 and 2007, he was physically located in the respondent and engaged via the respondent Secretarial Scheme. In 2007, his employment was transferred to the respondent, where he continues to be employed.

  2. The complainant outlined that he and the printers employed by other political parties together negotiated with the respondent at the time they were to be directly employed by the respondent. He said that he and his colleague (in attendance at the adjudication) negotiated with representatives of the respondent, including with one senior official not present at the hearing. The complainant raised with this official the question of whether his 10 years of service with the political party and his four years of service on the Secretarial Scheme would be reckonable service. He received assurances from the official that they would be included as part of his service. He outlined that he would not have agreed to sign the contract of employment with the respondent had he not received the assurance given by the official. He and his colleagues would have continued to negotiate. He took the statement made by or on behalf of the respondent at face value. He later sought a letter of comfort from the respondent but none was provided. His position was different to the other printers as they had always been in-house, i.e. engaged via the Secretarial Scheme.

  3. The complainant outlined that he wished to have the years of service since 1992 taken into account as service. He indicated that he did not expect to have the full 10 years recognised. He said that the AVC he accrued at the political party had had a value of €13,000, but this had reduced to €10,000 at the time of the adjudication.

  4. The colleague outlined that he had been shop steward for the negotiations. The named senior official had had two meetings with staff and the complainant had raised the issue of his years of service. The colleague said that he heard the senior official say “all your years of service will be recognised”.

  5. In submissions, the complainant outlines that this matter became an issue in 2006 when he raised his years of service. He was informed that he had four years’ service as opposed to the 14 years he had expected. As redress, he asks that the necessary adjustments be provided to reflect his service. In correspondence of the 28th October 2008, the trade union requests that

a special arrangement be made so that the complainant is paid a lump sum to recompense him for the shortfall in his pension.

Respondent’s Submission and Presentation:
  1. The respondent outlined that in January 2007 it sought to centralise the provision of printing facilities. It was at this time that it also sought to negotiate pension arrangements with the relevant trade unions. The respondent outlines that the complainant’s employment between 1992 and 2002 was private sector employment and that he was not a public servant in that time. The complainant had availed of an AVC, a private pension fund. In 2002, the complainant was appointed by the political party to a post under the Secretarial Allowance Scheme. There was a defined benefit pension scheme attached to this post with a minimum pension age of 60 and a maximum pension age of 65. This pension scheme is a member of the Public Service Transfer Network (PSTN). It is submitted that the complainant has sought to transfer his service prior to 2002 to the Non-established pension scheme, but that this request was refused on the basis that the AVC is not transferable under the rules of the PSTN.

  2. The respondent further submits that the PSTN was established to facilitate, principally, public service employees from moving from one public service organisation to another in allowing them to reckon all service for their later pension entitlements. The Secretarial Assistance scheme comes under the PSTN. The rules provide that service must follow in sequence, transferring from one body to another. Generally, transfers of service take place on a year-to-year basis known as “knock-for-knock”. The complainant was informed that he could use the value of the AVC to purchase service. At the time of the request, this would yield 1.3 years’ service in the Non-Established State Employees’ pension scheme. It is not permissible to transfer service from an AVC into a PSTN scheme and nor is it permissible to transfer in from a pension scheme outside of the PSTN.

  3. The respondent outlines that the complainant’s employment prior to 2002 was separate from that between 2002 and 2007. It is submitted that he can cash in the AVC from the period between 1992 and 2002, but cannot transfer that service to the Non-Established Pension Scheme.

  4. In correspondence of the 18th February 2014 exchanged by the respondent and the trade union, the respondent states that in July 2007 it was directed by the Department of Finance to transfer the printers to the Non-Established State Employees scheme. The correspondence states that the printers had two options: to transfer their service under the Secretarial Allowance scheme into the Non-Established scheme or to treat the two entitlements as separate. The complainant chose to keep the two entitlements as separate.

  5. In respect of the senior official, the representatives of the respondent in attendance at the adjudication denied that he had made the undertakings attributed...

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