Labour Court enforces JLC rates despite non-ERO sales

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Labour Court finds service station must pay staff JLC wage rates, despite the same rationale not applying to outlets such as cinemas and pharmacies.



22 November 2010

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In a long-awaited determination from the Labour Court, it was the considered opinion of the court that a service station was liable to pay workers in its shop a rate that is Joint Labour Committee (JLC) ordained.

It found that the level of turnover for products that were not covered by the JLC, such as fuel, phone credit and other non Employment Regulation Order (non-ERO)  products was not relevant.  Although evidence was given to the court that non-ERO items contributed 78% of turnover, the court was satisfied that the retail shop was “a department of an undertaking within the meaning of that term in the ERO”.

It also found that the retail unit was “wholly or mainly engaged in the retail grocery and allied trades”, as the time spent in that undertaking appears to be “indistinguishable from the opening hours of the unit”.  

The court found that “being available to deal with customer purchases”, as distinct from the time actually spent serving a customer, was another reason why workers in the retail unit should be considered to be covered by the JLC ERO.

Finally, the court found that the worker in question carries out some of the operations in or about the shop, and as such came within the scope of the JLC and is subject to the provision of the relevant ERO.

We wonder whether the novel “available to deal with customer purchases” rationale will be utilised against those retailers that are currently outside the remit of any JLC by the National Employment Rights Agency (NERA); who brought the case against the service station?  Cinemas sell confectionery, off-licences sell tobacco products, pharmacies have taken to selling bottled minerals; is the presence of these products putting their non-JLC status, and less expensive wage overheads at risk?



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