A number of HSE grades, including environmental health officers, biochemists, and pharmacy and clinical measurement grades, are to get enhanced annual leave arrangements thanks to a deal painstakingly negotiated by Fórsa. The new arrangement will standardise their leave, bringing it in line with other health professional grades.
The agreement also aligns the leave of similar voluntary hospital staff, who missed out on an earlier standardisation deal that aligned leave with the HSE.
Under a deal brokered by the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC), the improved leave is to be backdated to 2015 on a “cost neutral” basis in both the HSE and the voluntary hospitals.
Formal ratification of the standardisation arrangements was delayed for over a year after employers’ body Ibec, which represents voluntary hospital management in the talks, sought clarification on how it would be implemented, particularly for recently-promoted staff. However, the HSE wrote to Ibec on 27th November confirming that an agreement had been reached, and approved voluntary hospitals to proceed to implementation stage.
Fórsa official Catherine Keogh said this had been frustrating as broad agreement was reached with the HSE as early as July 2018.
“This was a complex process involving multiple employers and even more grades. But it’s finally over the line, and the members concerned will now have their leave standardised with other colleagues. It’s a win for them delivered by the collective strength and resources of the union,” she said.
The earliest leave standardisation deal was done in 2009, but it emerged that certain grades weren’t covered. Repeated union attempts to redress initially stalled because of the financial crisis and subsequent recruitment moratorium.
The union won a commitment to address the problem as part of the 2013 Haddington Road public service deal, and agreement covering most staff was done in December 2014. The deal finalised last month has finally laid the process to rest.