This page contains the following information for Special Needs Assistants:
Section One: Important Updates.
Section Two: Updates on issues currently being discussed with the Department of Education and Skills.
Section Three: Useful links to Department Circulars regarding SNAs.
We hope to expand this webpage to include a section on Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
October 16th 2013 update:
SIPTU met with the Dept of Education and Skills on Tuesday the 8th October, 2013, on the issue of job sharing for SNAs. The DES presented a “Final Draft” document on Job Sharing. Both SIPTU and IMPACT unions made several changes to the draft and indeed the Department officials looked to alter some of the wording.
The main issues in dispute are the Department's insistence that a job sharing post must be a 16 hour position (based on the notional 32 hour week used by payroll to calculate the hourly rate of pay for part-time SNAs) and on the prohibition on “outside work” being performed by the job sharer. The Union position is that bus escort duty and state exams duties should be exempted from this provision. Both SIPTU and IMPACT unions sought and received an assurance from the Department that the 16 hour issue was not an attempt to alter the contract hours as specified at point 2.5 of the Contract of Employment.
The outcome of the meeting was that Department committed to have its Final Draft concluded by 23rd October.
April 11th 2013 Update:
SIPTU MEETING DEPT. OF EDUCATION AND SKILLS ON JOB SHARING PROPOSALS FOR SNAs.
A meeting with the Dept of Education on the issue of job sharing for SNAs will take place on the 30th of April 2013. We would hope to finalise agreement at that stage. Please check this webpage for updates on the talks.
February 28th 2013 Update:
MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH FOR SPECIAL NEEDS ASSISTANTS
Please read carefully the document below which has finally been agreed with the Department of Education and Skills. This is a positive break-through for SNAs everywhere. We now have a final proposal for the putting in place of a panel system which will give job security for Special Needs Assistants. The option of redundancy payment remains open also but it will be the choice of the SNA. Final agreement of this proposal is subject to the ballot on the new Croke Park agreement.
We are anxious to keep our SNA members up to date on the national issues which affect them. SIPTU is in constant discussions with the Department of Education and Skills on a range of matters which concern you. We are currently representing members on the following issues;
1) Unacceptable approach by some schools towards the National Agreement on Flexible use of the 12 days (72 hours).
2) Job-sharing policy for SNAs.
3) Implementation of the Labour Court Recommendation won by the Union regarding the setting up of a panel system for SNAs who lose their employment.
1) National Flexibility Agreement under Croke Park.
In discussions with The Dept of Education, SIPTU has made the point that the Flexibility Agreement does not allow for the 72 hours to be used for non SNA appropriate work. SNAs should not be asked to do work which relates to the whole school population i.e. to non-special needs students. Nor should they be asked to perform work which is appropriate to other grades of staff in the school such as school secretaries, cleaning or caretaking staff.
In addition the Union made the point, yet again, to Department officials, that there is nothing in the Agreement that compels schools to use the full 72 hours in any school year. The commitment is for SNAs to be available for up to 72 hours. This means that a school, in response to the needs of special needs students, can avail of these hours up to a maximum of 72 in any school year. It follows that there should be as many years where schools use 5, 10 or 30 hours as there would be where 60 or 72 hours are used. The Union emphasised the point that 72 hours is not a target but rather a maximum number.
The Department argued that they must ensure that schools obtain “value for money” from the Agreement and that the Department will audit schools in relation to the use of these hours. In response, SIPTU made the point that some schools are viewing the Department audit of these hours as implying that the school will be in trouble if the Department audit shows that they are using less than the 72 hours in the school year.
The Department officials are to get back to the Union on this matter.
2) Job Sharing.
SIPTU emphasised the need to finalise an agreed policy on this matter. It also made the point that job sharing for SNAs has been in place for many years at the level of individual schools.
The Department responded saying that it needed a standard working week for SNAs i.e. 32 hours in order to be able to design a job sharing policy. The union objected strongly to this and gave examples of flexible working hours in other areas of the public sector. The Department stated that the only type of flexible working hours available in the education sector was job sharing (i.e. half and half).
It was agreed that the job sharing model applicable to teachers would be looked at as a possible template for a similar policy for SNAs. A follow-on meeting is to take place on this matter.
3) Panel for SNAs who lose their jobs (Labour Court Recommendation of 25th June 2012)
SIPTU insisted that the Labour Court Recommendation be implemented immediately. The Department response was that they would facilitate talks between the unions and the seven Boards of Management Bodies. It also indicated that negotiations on this would be difficult.
The union emphasised that this matter had now gone through all the existing negotiating procedures up to and including the Labour Court and that the Court had found in favour of its position. The union was now insisting that the Management Bodies clearly state whether they were accepting or rejecting the Labour Court Recommendation on the matter. If they accept it then the Panels should be put in place immediately. If they reject it then the two Unions (SIPTU and IMPACT) would have to take appropriate action to finalise the matter.
The Department is to meet the Boards of Management Bodies in the next two weeks, and revert to the unions on the next steps.
Link to the Department of Education website: www.education.ie