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WRC does not recommend allowance for HSE National Director

By Paul Mulholland - 26th May 2024

WRC

A Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) adjudication officer has declined to recommend payment of the clinical director allowance to a National Director employed by the HSE.

The hearing, which took place in January, involved a dispute between the National Director and the HSE regarding salary differentials and pension entitlements.

The National Director was seeking payment of the clinical director allowance and was also looking for additional years of service to be added for pension purposes in respect of time working abroad.

The National Director, who was represented by the IMO, had contended that his salary inadequately reflected his responsibilities.

“He stated in the first instance that his salary does not reflect the fact that he is required to maintain his clinical registration and he is paid less than all other public health doctors working in the new consultant roles (one of whom reports to him),” according to the WRC transcript, published in April.

The National Director argued while the allowance had been previously restricted to consultants, it had also been paid to other doctors who were acting in non-clinical roles in recent years.

However, the HSE refused the request, citing financial constraints and the need to adhere to established pay agreements.

The Executive described the request as “a cost-increasing claim”, stating this was precluded under the provisions of Building Momentum.

“It was also asserted that any departure from same would be a breach of FEMPI [Financial Emergencies Measures in the Public Interest] legislation and would set dangerous and unacceptable precedents,” according to the WRC transcript of the HSE’s argument.

In the final determination, the adjudication officer pointed out that the National Director’s salary situation, where he earns less than those reporting to him, was not unique.

“Although I accept that there are doctors who are not operating as consultants, but who are in receipt of the clinical directors’ allowance, it was highlighted by the employer that these doctors either assumed additional duties after they started in their roles or brought the allowance with them from their previous roles, in which case it would be legally impermissible to remove the allowance,” according to the final decision.

In response to the National Director’s assertion that he is required to maintain his clinical registration to retain his role and therefore has to fulfil additional clinical duties, the adjudication officer said these medical shifts can be done at a time and a venue of his own choosing.

This was unlike the additional managerial duties in respect of a specific area of hospital activity that those in receipt of the clinical director allowance fulfil, according to the adjudication officer.

The HSE’s argument that the claim ran counter to the pay agreement negotiated between the Government and the public sector was also accepted in the final decision.

The adjudication officer recommended re-engagement between the parties on the issue of added years of service for pension purposes in respect of time working abroad, pointing out “the lack of meaningful engagement between the parties” to date.

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