GRA brings High Court challenge over regulations affecting sick leave payments
AGSI and bodies representing senior ranks expected to bring proceedings shortly
The Garda Representative Association (GRA), representing 11,500 rank-and-file members, has launched a High Court challenge to new regulations affecting sick leave payments.
The case, brought against Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform Brendan Howlin, concerns planned implementation of provisions of the 2014 Public Service Management (Sick Leave) Regulations.
The regulations, which reduce public service sick leave entitlements, were enacted earlier this month and are due to come into force today.
The GRA argues the regulations were brought in without proper consultation, are irrational and incomprehensible. The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors and bodies representing Garda Superintendents and Chief Superintendents are expected to bring similar proceedings shortly.
The GRA claims the enactment of the regulations was outside the powers of the Minister, breached fair procedures and the legitimate expectations of its members.
Permission to bring the action was granted yesterday on an ex-parte basis (one side only represented) by Mr Justice Michael Peart, who returned the main matter to June.
The judge also gave the GRA permission to serve short notice of injunction proceedings aimed at preventing the regulations being implemented pending the outcome of the main action.
The injunction matter will come before the court later this week.
Earlier, Feichín McDonagh SC, for the GRA, said it was opposing the regulations on grounds including they were incomprehensible.
It was also irrational to introduce the regulations when the GRA had a legitimate expectation nothing would be done until negotiations between the Department and Garda representatives concerning sick leave were completed, he said.
Those talks had been under way for some time and were parallel to similar talks between the Minister and trade unions representing other public service workers.
A working group was set up between the Minister and the Garda representative groups and several meetings took place, counsel said. The Minister wanted progress on the issue before the end of the first quarter of 2014 and a further meeting was due between the parties on March 7th.
At that meeting, his side was told the Minister had signed the regulations the previous day and that decision had come as “a bolt from the blue”, Mr McDonagh said.
The Minister had failed to adhere to his commitment to consult before bringing in any new regulations and the bodies representing gardaí had no opportunity to see or address those, he added.