Allowances: Important Labour Court recommendation

29th January 2013

The Labour Court has identified principles that it says should guide decisions about the retention or abolition of allowances for serving staff. The recommendation is timely as unions and management are likely to discuss the future treatment of allowances in the current talks on a possible extension to the Croke Park agreement.

In a recent recommendation concerning allowances for VEC chief executives, the Court said pensionable allowances that are paid across a grade, and which relate to the normal duties of the grade, “might reasonably be regarded as part of normal pay.” It said the most appropriate way of dealing with such allowances was to incorporate them into core pay.

The Court said different considerations should apply for allowances paid for particular duties or functions that are “additional” to normal duties for the grade. The elimination of such allowances, with compensation, was justified if recipients were no longer required to perform the additional duty, it said.

“Where, however, the recipient is expected to continue performing the additional duty or function (other than as part of a wider restructuring of the pay or duties of the grade) it is difficult to see how the total elimination of the allowance can be justified,” it said.

The recommendation also called on management and unions to hold central negotiations on compensation for losses that arise from the elimination of pensionable allowances.

Last October the Government instructed departments and offices to open talks with unions about the abolition of some allowances currently paid to existing public servants. The 88 named allowances are drawn from a list of over 100, which were earlier abolished for new entrants. IMPACT said it would trigger the Croke Park third party adjudication process in any case where agreement cannot be reached. This process is time-limited and, ultimately, binding on both sides.

Read the full recommendation HERE.