IMPACT warns on hours options

Thursday 11th July 2013

IMPACT has said it will not cooperate with the implementation of new working time arrangements in situations where local or sectoral management refuse to allow staff to opt for reduced pay rather than increased hours. The union said withholding this option was a breach of the Haddington Road Agreement (HRA), which came into force this month.

The issue first emerged when the HSE issued a ‘frequently asked questions’ document, which changed the wording of the HRA. The agreement says: “management will allow persons to opt to remain on their current hours with appropriate pay adjustments for a period.” The HSE document substituted the word “will” with “may.”

In a letter to the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (DEPR), IMPACT general secretary Shay Cody said: “This is an unacceptable sleight of hand and will inevitably mislead both employers and staff. I would find an approach of this nature unacceptable whether it came from the union or management side, and I must insist on immediate steps to correct the misleading account of the HRA.” He said IMPACT would invoke the agreement’s arbitration clause if necessary.

The union has also questioned a June 2014 time-limit on such arrangements, which appeared in a DEPR circular last month. Mr Cody said IMPACT did not accept this time limit, which does not appear in the text of the HRA. The department responded by agreeing to a union proposal that both sides should meet to discuss the matter early next year.