The Labour Court has recommended that special needs assistants (SNAs) who become redundant should not simply lose their jobs. Instead, the Court agreed with IMPACT’s argument that they should be placed on a panel for redeployment to alternative posts as they arise.
The breakthrough, which means improved job security and career prospects, follows a six-year campaign by IMPACT’s SNA branch. The Court recommended that the SNA panel should be arranged on the basis of seniority, with redeployed SNAs carrying forward their prior service.
Until now, SNAs have not had the same job security as other public servants. Under existing arrangements they are simply made redundant when a school no longer needs them. Several hundred SNAs face redundancy every year as the summer term ends, with many facing uncertainty over their position over the summer months.
The Labour Court said that while SNAs could not claim the same right to redeployment as other public servants, there was “a sustainable case for affording SNAs a greater degree of security in employment than presently exists.” It said “the fairest and most practical way of achieving this objective is to put in place an arrangement whereby SNAs, whose role is displaced by redundancy, can be facilitated in filling similar alternative posts that may become available.”
The education department says it is considering the recommendation, which is not binding. If the recommendation is accepted, SNAs will have a choice of either taking a redundancy package or going onto a panel, significantly improving the chances of getting another job.
IMPACT has worked hard to win this kind of panel system for the last six years and union official Philip Mullen said the recommendation was a major breakthrough for SNAs, which demonstrates how effective union organisation makes a difference. You can view Philip and SNA branch organiser Joan McCrohan outline the implications of the result for SNAs and the children they serve discuss HERE.
The court’s recommended procedure is as follows:
- Where an SNA’s role becomes redundant they should be placed on a panel.
- Where a vacancy arises or where a new post is created it should first be offered to those on the panel in order of seniority, subject to suitability.
- Those on the panel should not have entitlement to remuneration beyond the existing arrangements and, subject to (4) and (5) below they should not become entitled to redundancy payments.
- As an alternative to being placed on the panel an SNA who is displaced could opt for a redundancy payment in line with the current arrangement.
- An SNA who remains on the panel for a full school year without being placed in employment should have the option of claiming a redundancy payment in line with the present arrangement.
- An SNA who accepts a redundancy payment under either (4) or (5) above shall have no further entitlement to placement from the panel.
- Where a SNA is placed in alternative employment under this arrangement they should carry forward their prior service.
Read the full recommendation HERE.