Case Number: ADJ-00007223. Workplace Relations Commission

Docket NumberADJ-00007223
Date01 May 2017
CourtWorkplace Relations Commission
PartiesAn Employee v A Manufacturing Company

ADJUDICATION OFFICER DECISION/RECOMMENDATION

Adjudication Reference: ADJ-00007223

Complaint(s):

Act

Complaint/Dispute Reference No.

Date of Receipt

Complaint seeking adjudication by the Workplace Relations Commission under section 13 of the Industrial Relations Act, 1969

CA-00009763-001

17/02/2017

Date of Adjudication Hearing: 08/05/2017

Workplace Relations Commission Adjudication Officer: Ray Flaherty

Location of Hearing: The Harbour Hotel

Procedure:

In accordance with Section 41 of the Workplace Relations Act, 2015 and Section 13 of the Industrial Relations Acts 1969 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.

Background:
The Respondent, which operates in the manufacturing sector, currently employs approximately 230 employees. That number includes 10 Chemical Technicians, of which the Complainant is one.

The Respondent operates a number of shift patterns for the Chemical Technicians, as follows:

  • Permanent Day Shift (8:00 am to 4:30 pm)
  • Permanent Evening Shift (4:30 pm to 12:30 am)
  • Permanent Night Shift (12:30 am to 8:00 am)

The Complainant works a unique shift as follows:

  • 8:00 am to 5:00 pm on Tuesday/Wednesday/Thursday,
  • 8:00 am to 1:30 pm on Friday and
  • 12:00 am to 8:00 am on Monday.

The Complainant receives a 33% shift premium for the 12:00am/8:00am shift on a Monday.

Summary of Complainant’s Case:

The Complainant’s Trade Union representative stated that the Complainant is the only person working this unique roster. The Trade Union contends that the very nature of the hours of work is a shift pattern and should command the premium rate of 33% on all hours worked by the Complainant.

The Trade Union further contends that, in the event of the full shift premium being paid for all hours worked, other people working the day shift would be more likely to agree to a roster between them where each person would only work such a shift every 5 weeks.

It was submitted that in the event the Complainant is compelled to continue to work such a shift pattern there is a very real danger of stress setting in. It was contended that, in such an event, the company would be responsible for the Complainant’s well-being under Section 8 of the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 2005. In this regard, the Trade Union also highlighted the Respondent’s responsibilities under Schedule 3, General Principles of Prevention Section (4).

It was contended on the Complainant’s behalf that he constantly feels “jet lagged” due to the changing pattern/cycle of the shift. It was further contended that this is having a major effect on the Complainant’s well-being and health.

In conclusion, it was claimed on behalf of the Complainant that there is no financial burden involved for the Respondent in what is being sought as a remedy for this scenario. It was further submitted that what is being sought is not disproportionate when considered against the Respondent’s obligations with regard to the Complainant’s health.

On that basis, the Complainant’s Trade Union Representative requested a recommendation that:

  1. The entire shift pattern/cycle commands the rate of 33%.
  2. The other workers on the day shift be allowed to apply for this shift pattern/cycle.

The Trade Union Representative submitted on behalf of the Complainant, that, in introducing the above arrangement, the Respondent would be abiding by their responsibilities concerning the working environment and the influence on the Complainant’s health.

Summary of Respondent’s Case:

In response to the complaint raised, the Respondent stated that the facts of the case were not in dispute. However, the Respondent stated that the issues previously raised by the Complainant were all addressed internally, save for one issue in relation to a temporary transfer for the duration of the maternity leave.

The Respondent stated in submission that the claimant had never raised the issue of shift premium in line with the normal industrial relations process, which requires the Complainant to exhaust all internal process before referring the matter externally. Consequently, the Respondent contends that the matter is not properly before the WRC given that internal procedures have not been exhausted in line with Section 22 of the Company Agreement. However, without prejudice to the foregoing, the Respondent addressed the issues contained in the complaint.

The Respondent stated that the Complainant works one night each week and therefore receive a generous night shift premium (33%) for hours only worked at night at the same value as other night workers.

The Respondent further stated that Section 8 of the Company/Union Agreement provides that shift premiums are only applicable in instances of “Permanent Evening Shift” and “Permanent Night Shift”. The Respondent submitted that there is no daytime premium, but that in the spirit of the agreement, the Complainant receives a premium for the night he works.

In summary, the Respondent requested that the Complainant’s claim be rejected.

Consideration and Conclusions:

Having carefully considered all the evidence presented and representations made at the hearing, it is clear that the Complainant’s complaint is firmly based in his dissatisfaction with his current work patterns. The evidence presented by and on behalf of the Complainant, suggests that he finds the 12:00 am to 8:00 am (Sunday night/Monday morning), in particular, to be having a negative impact on his sleep patterns and to be socially restrictive in terms of his time off at weekends.

I am satisfied that the...

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