Labour Court Backs PNA on Qualification Allowance
In 1999 the Labour Court recommended payment of the specialist Qualification Allowance (€2938 p.a.) to Nurses who had a relevant skills based Qualification which they were using in the course of their work. The Court said the Course must be at Category II or equivalent as determined by An Bord Altranais.
Following the recommendation the Individual Nurse could apply to An Bord Altranais have it verified that the course they had completed was Category II or equivalent. In many cases the Psychiatric or I.D. nurse would have completed a course which was not a dedicated Nursing Course but one attended by a cross section of Health Professionals. Up to 2005 an Bord would examine the case and if satisfied would confirm the equivalence to a Category 2 course.
Since 2005 An Bord has refused to consider any Irish Course unless the University or College applies for Category 2 Approval. Since Nurses attending the course were in the minority, the universities found this requirement baffling and refused to co-operate as a result Nurses who had worked hard to achieve a masters, Higher Diploma etc were not able to receive payment.
The PNA processed a test case to the Labour Court and in its recommendation the Court has found in favour of the PNA.
"The Current appeal to the Court arises out of an impasse in the current system for seeking approval for a specific qualification held by the Appellant. Both sides agree that the qualification has high clinical and academic worth and that the nurse meets all other conditions for payment of the allowance. However An Bord Altranais appears to have no procedure that enables it to assess the qualification and determine whether it is a category II “equivalent”.
The Court is of the view that the Nurse in this case is entitled to rely on the agreement entered into between the Nursing Alliance and the HSE in 2002. In doing so she is entitled to have her qualification assessed within a reasonable timescale. The responsibility to ensure that this assessment is carried out rests with the HSE, her employer. The obligation is on it to resolve any procedural issues with An Bord Altranais in a timely manner. The Court is not satisfied that this obligation had been adequately discharged.
Accordingly, the Court’s decision in this case is that the HSE should set about resolving this impasse within six months of the date of this Decision. If the impasse is not resolved within that time the HSE must pay an amount the equivalent of the Specialist Qualification Allowance to the Claimant until it is resolved and the assessment made. If the impasse is not resolved within twelve months of the date of this Decision the HSE must pay the Claimant the retrospection that would be payable to her had An Bord Altranais determined that the qualification in question which she holds is a Category II qualification."