More DoE hypocrisy

November 26th, 2010 | by Andrew Ó Baoill |

The Irish educational system has some strange features. One is that while school staff have their wages and conditions set – and paid for – by the Department of Education – they are not viewed, in law, as employees of the Department. Historically this has been used as a fudge to allow school management to hire and fire on the basis of religious ideology – firing single women who became pregnant, etc. – but more recently the ‘distinction’ has been used by the Department to avoid what would otherwise be the legal obligations of an employer.
The Department is in the weird position of directing schools as to the terms and conditions of their employees – including setting the pay-scales of individual employees – but claiming not to be the employer of record. In almost any other situation this would be understood as fraudulent, a shell-game where the Department calls the shots but hides behind front companies. Why the Irish courts have allowed it to continue is beyond me.
Now, the Department has directed schools to reduce the pay of non-teaching staff from January. There will be many more cuts to come, of course, but this one carries the double sting of financial hardship (on some of the lowest-paid in the educational sector) and a paymaster that avoids the legal responsibilities that go with its role.

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