RTÉ staff have reacted angrily to the level of compensation the national broadcaster is proposing to pay 61 current employees, who were wrongly employed as contractors at the station over a period of years.
here was a meeting of some 40 RTÉ workers last week in Montrose to hear about the proposal from Sheila Nunan and Liam Doherty, the joint facilitators that have been working on a “retrospection” proposal to compensate staff.
The issue arose after an Eversheds report into alleged bogus self-employment identified workers as being on the wrong contracts.
In 2019, RTÉ offered 81 workers staff contracts after the review found their employment was more akin to staff than contract work.
Of them, 79 accepted the contract – but pursued claims for retrospective payments for missed sick leave, maternity leave, paternity leave, holiday pay, medical benefits and other entitlements they missed out while working as contractors.
There are women who missed out on maternity leave before 2013
Some workers were forced to return to work soon after family bereavements or after having babies, to ensure they had income.
The meeting last week included some well-known broadcasters across RTÉ current affairs and sports, as well as staff from the make-up, camera and wardrobe departments.
The proposal put to the staff from the joint facilitators involved an “ex-gratia lump sum” that ranged from €17,500 for those employed since 2013 down to €5,000 for those who worked at the station from January 2018 before they were made staff.
The proposal offers €5,000 for each period of maternity leave staff missed after January 2013, and €750 for each missed paternity leave.
RTÉ will also recognise past continuous service for any future redundancy calculations and annual leave.
This will be based on a start date assessed by the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection’s Scope section.
Those who agree to the terms will be expected to sign an agreement “in full and final settlement” of all claims relating to their past employment history.
RTÉ wants the process completed by the end of September, but many staff say they need more time to get pension and tax advice on the offer.
A number of staff who attended the meeting last week said there was “real anger” over the limitations of the retrospective offer.
No one wants to go public and take this to court – but it’s not ruled out
One worker estimates they missed out on entitlements worth €200,000 – but under the settlement they will only be entitled to payments of just over €20,000.
“The staff who put in many years before 2013, some going back to the Eighties and Nineties are particularly angry at the 2013 cut-off date,” said the source. “There are a number of women who missed out on maternity leave before 2013 and had to rush back to work. They are very angry.
“Why should they not be entitled to compensation? The feeling in the room was that this is not acceptable. No one wants to go public and take this to court – but given the reaction, legal action is not ruled out.”
A number of affected workers said they felt the “low” offer was a continuation of RTÉ’s poor treatment of them from when they were paid lower amounts and had less benefits than staff colleagues doing the same job.
A number of those made staff in 2019 said they get less annual leave and lower pay than colleagues.
RTÉ said it and the Trade Union Group “have jointly engaged in a facilitated process aimed at proposing a fair solution to the issue of retrospection for those 61 current employees who were offered and accepted contracts of employment as part of the Eversheds process”.