This page contains the following information for Special Needs Assistants:
Section One: Important Updates.
Section Two: List of issues currently under negotiation at national level 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)
a) Update on issues relating to the implementation of the 72 Hours Agreement.
A meeting involving SIPTU, IMPACT and the Department of Education took place at the Labour Relations Commission in Dublin regarding the 72 hour agreement. Both Unions raised concerns about unacceptable approaches by some Principals/Boards of Management to the use of these hours. As previously stated, 72 hours is a limit not a target and therefore staff should not be pressured into doing 72 hours a year “at all costs”. This situation has led to many difficulties, in particular the assignment of work that is clearly not appropriate to SNAs. This matter was raised by both Unions.
As an outcome it was agreed that both sides (Unions and DES) would prepare a submission on the 72 hours agreement and present this to the other side no later than the first week of March 2014. At that point a further meeting at the Labour Relations Commission will take place.
b) Update as of 2014 on SNA Job Sharing negotiations:
Talks broke down in Nov 2013 between the Dept of Education and SIPTU and IMPACT Unions on the matter of a Job Sharing Policy for SNA’s. The main issues in dispute are;
1) The Departments insistence that a full-time SNA post is 32 hours per week, when in fact most full-time SNA’s work closer to 28 hours/week.
2) The need for Bus Escort duties and Exam duties to be exempt from the provision which states that SNA’s who are job-sharing may not be employed in other work.
3) Issues around Redundancy Payment in the event that the SENO reduces the working hours of a job-sharing post.
The Labour Court has now heard the case and the argument of both sides in relation to Job-Sharing. The Court has stated that the parties (SIPTU, IMPACT and the Dept of Education) should return to negotiations at the Labour Relations Commission with a view to resolving the main difficulty i.e. the matter of the number of weekly hours worked by a full-time SNA. The Department is arguing that the hours are 32 per week while both Unions argue that the hours are closer to 28 per week. The Department is refusing to agree on the job-sharing until this matter is resolved. The Court has given the parties a maximum of three months to reach agreement. Failing that the Labour Court will give a definitive recommendation.
c) Update as of 2014 on SNA Panel System.
“A number of issues relating to the Panel System for SNA’s who lose employment due to Redundancy were referred to the Education Oversight body of the Haddington Road Agreement. These are mainly as follows;
1) A Manager was to be put in place nationally to oversee the implementation of the new Panel System for SNA’s. This did not happen and represents a major problem for SNA’s as the absence of a National Manager leaves the Panel System in the hands of each school management with no transparency or national coordination.
2) The Dept of Education stated that no list of SNA’s on the Panel will “be made or kept by the Department”. Once again this undermines the Panel System and the need for transparency.
3) The Dept of Education stated that following 12 months on the panel SNA’s will then be made redundant. This contradicts the National Agreement on the Panel System which simply says that after 12 months on the panel an SNA may opt for redundancy and receive the redundancy payment.
4) The Dept of Education states that an interview will take place to determine who gets the next SNA vacancy. This is at odds with the National Agreement which states “Where a vacancy arises or where a new post is created it will first be offered to those on the panel in order of seniority subject to suitability”. Such suitability does not necessarily require an “interview process”
There are a number of other issues in relation to the Dept of Education approach to the Panel System and we intend to raise these also.
Meetings with the Department of Education are ongoing.
d) Administration of Medication and involvement in Medical Procedures.
“As several members of SIPTU have been in contact with the Union on these issues we will shortly be issuing advice to all SNA members on how best to approach these situations. Please note that this is a critical area and appropriate training by a qualified medical professional should be in place. Involvement in certain medical procedures will require certified training and continuous assessment and supervision.”
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.
4) Involvement of SNA’s in administration of Medication or in Medical Procedures.
Link to the Department of Education website: www.education.ie