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The IMO is preparing to launch a major campaign on illegal working hours faced by NCHDs, which will involve mass collection and submission of claims under working time law.
The Organisation’s NCHD committee has agreed it will focus on breaches of the European Working Time Directive (EWTD) as a high priority this year.
The IMO collected individual claims to pressurise health authorities to introduce intern induction pay in 2018. It recently submitted around 240 individual claims to the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) pertaining to work undertaken by 2019 interns outside the 39-hour induction week.
According to an IMO survey of NCHD members on hours worked in September, around half reported working over 24 hours, compared with 3 per cent non-compliance recorded in HSE statistics. The HSE reported 81 per cent compliance with the 48-hour maximum working week, compared with 14 per cent compliance cited by the union.
IMO Industrial Relations Officer Mr Paul Maier said doctors have sometimes been concerned that making a claim might not be readily accepted by colleagues, due to a “culture of extreme working hours”.
However, he said the union hopes the campaign will challenge the “fundamental narrative” that doctors must work extreme hours to receive adequate training and succeed in their careers.
If enough claims are filed, their processing becomes “onerous and difficult to defend”, both from a moral and practical perspective, stated Mr Maier. The HSE would be obliged to respond to the claims, with each claimant entitled to an adjudication session.
Mr Maier said he will be writing a brief for NCHDs on the EWTD, with the campaign expected to launch after the IMO’s AGM in April.