Leaving Cert supervisor says mileage claims docked for taking ‘rational’ route to school

Daniel Murphy says he would have gotten stuck ‘behind silage traffic’ if driving to Kells on roads suggested by State Examinations Commission

A Leaving Cert supervisor claims his pay was unlawfully docked by more than €1,600 in a three-year row over mileage allowances because officials expected him to drive “cross country” on back roads to take the shortest possible route to the school he was posted to.

At the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on Thursday, Daniel Murphy said his primary concern was to get the exams going on time and that if he had followed the roads the State Examinations Commission (SEC) wanted him to, he risked being “stuck behind silage traffic”.

In a complaint under the Payment of Wages Act 1991 against the SEC, Mr Murphy said he was left short by hundreds of euro a year on his mileage payments in 2021, 2022 and last year for supervising the Leaving Cert at a school in Kells, Co Meath.

An official said the mileage claims were “excessive” and that Mr Murphy had been paid all the wages he was owed.

READ MORE

Mr Murphy, who gave an address in Monaghan, said he had some 30 years’ service as a supervisor and first took up the temporary work for the Leaving Cert exams at Kells Community School in 2021.

“The problem with Kells is it’s kind of cross-country from Monaghan. There are about seven or eight different routes I can get to Kells, but they’re along minor roads in pretty bad repair,” he said.

He said “any rational person” would make the journey on the N2 but that when he claimed mileage for this route, starting in 2021, his claims were unilaterally reduced.

In 2021, the SEC paid him for 629km less than he travelled, which would have been worth €522 at €0.83 per kilometre, he said. He said he was left short by €550 in 2022 and €574.20 last year.

“The State Exams Commission seems to ask Google Maps to give the shortest distance between two Eircodes and say that is the way you should have gone,” Mr Murphy said.

“My reasons are very clearly set out. One of them was arriving at my destination in a timely fashion so that exams would be started in a timely fashion...It might be a shorter route, but it would not be a route that a sensible person would take.”

He said his mileage claims from 2021 were still outstanding because the SEC never told him it was rejecting his internal complaint on the matter. He characterised the response he had from officials there as: “We’ll refer back to you; we’ll refer to higher management, going around in circles”.

Responding to the claim, Yvonne Shanley, an acting assistant principal officer at the SEC, argued that a mileage claim did not fall under the definition of wages in the Payment of Wages Act and that the WRC did not have jurisdiction to look at alleged pay deductions as far back as 2022 or 2021.

“We have to implement the regulations. People can have a personal choice and go a longer route, but we can only pay what [the Department of Finance] allows us,” Ms Shanley said.

Mr Murphy said: “I don’t want to be driving on minor back roads where I could get stuck behind silage traffic in the month of June and endure long delays.”

Adjudicator Christina Ryan said she would have to consider whether the complaints were statute-barred as well as the respondent’s arguments on the definition of wages for the purposes of the act before considering the substance of the complaint. She closed the hearing and said she would write to the parties in due course with her decision.

Read More

Recommended