herald

Wednesday 17 January 2018

Care centre staff in the dark over Ophelia pay

Staff at the St Vincent’s Centre were told not to come in
Staff at the St Vincent’s Centre were told not to come in

Care staff who were told by their employer not to come to work during Storm Ophelia may have their pay docked or a day's leave deducted as a result.

The HSE-funded St Vincent's Centre on Dublin's Navan Road provides adult day care services for the disabled.

The Status Red warning issued by Met Eireann on Sunday night led the Daughters of Charity, which runs the centre, to send a text message to 15 nursing and administrative staff, telling them not to present for work.

Choice

However, when they arrived on Tuesday morning, they were told that a day may be taken out of their annual leave as a result.

"Many of us don't have any annual leave left this late in the year, so we may end up getting a day's pay docked," one nurse told the Herald.

"We weren't given a choice. Fifteen of us were rostered to work on Monday, nurses and admin staff, and we got a message on Sunday night telling us not to come in because of the hurricane.

"We were asked to share the message with all staff. We assumed we would be paid for the day, just like HSE workers."

Daughters of Charity CEO Denis Cronin receives a salary of €136,000 plus a car allowance of €11,892 for the position he has held since 2011.

Repeated attempts to contact him were unsuccessful.

However, HR director Nat-alya Jackson said that during the storm, staff were told that in accordance with an adverse weather policy, they may take annual leave, time in lieu or build up time for Monday.

"However, it was clearly indicated to all staff on Tuesday that the service position regarding the day's leave would be clarified by HR," she said.

"Currently, we are awaiting a circular from the HSE clarifying how the day will be granted, which we will circulate as a memo to all staff."

The Daughters of Charity received €105m from the HSE last year, as well as €187.9m from the Department of Education.

Safety

"Where staff could not attend work on Monday or had to leave work early due to safety concerns regarding Storm Ophelia, they are not required to take annual leave and their pay won't be affected," the HSE said.

"This would apply to those who fall under public sector pay guidelines, but many of those who we fund would not - we merely purchase services from them and they would have their own pay and leave guidelines."

Emer Murphy, an employment law specialist with Lavelle Solicitors, said there was no obligation to pay employees when they do not turn up for work.

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