Pay and conditions of Commission members under scrutiny

A recent study investigated the pay and conditions of members of Lithuania’s Labour Disputes Commissions. Research was carried out in 2013 by the Lithuanian Social Research Centre into the work of people involved in the settlement of individual labour disputes. The findings of the survey revealed that the main issues regarding work organisation and the working conditions in the labour disputes commissions were the heavy workloads and low remuneration for work. Commission members have to juggle attending meetings with their normal employment.

Background

In 2012–2013, researchers carried out a study of labour dispute resolution in Lithuania. The research was carried out by the Institute of Labour and Social Research (ILSR) of the Lithuanian Social Research Centre (LSRC).

As part of the study, a survey identified the specific activities carried out by Labour Disputes Commissions during the settlement of cases. The survey covered aspects of the commissions’ work organisation and working conditions and included questions on workload and pay. Respondents of the survey were the chairs and members of the commissions who fulfil these roles alongside their normal employment.

The key survey method was online questioning. Questionnaires were sent by email to all 13 chairs of Labour Disputes Commissions in Lithuania. Eleven were completed and returned. All 238 members of Labour Disputes Commissions also received questionnaires, and 102 were returned. The survey was conducted during April and May 2013.

Key findings

Pay

Remuneration for work as a member of the Labour Disputes Commissions is regulated by the Labour Code of the Republic of Lithuania (Article 288) (Official Gazette No 64–2569, 2002).

The Labour Code says that representative of employers and employees shall be paid by the hour for work at commission meetings, the rate to be 25 times the basic hourly rate approved by the Government of Lithuania.

According to Decision No 844 (19 August 2009) of the Government of the Republic of Lithuania (LRV), since 1 September 2009 the basic monthly salary in Lithuania is equal to LTL 122 (€35.3) and the basic hourly wage is LTL 0.73 (€0.21). Therefore the pay of commission members for work at commission meetings in 2013 was set at LTL 18.25 (€5.26) an hour. The Labour Code stipulates that the procedure for payment for work done and travel costs should be established by the government or its authorised institutions.

The survey revealed that around two thirds (65.7%) of respondents were satisfied with their pay for attending commission meetings. The remaining one third (34.3%) appeared to be unhappy with their pay. On average, the net hourly rate that respondents said they should receive was almost twice as high as the current rate, around LTL 33 (€9.5) per hour.

A significant proportion of the respondents felt they should be paid not only for hours spent at meetings, but also for time spent familiarising themselves with the issues to be discussed at the meetings. They also felt they should be paid for time spent travelling to and from meetings, and time spent travelling to the signings of decision protocols.

Juggling a main job and commission work

The survey suggests most respondents (62.7%) managed to cope with their main jobs and work at the commission. One third (33.3%) of respondents said they could not always manage to carry out their main job and work at the commission, while 3.9% said that they did not manage to juggle the two tasks at all. According to the survey, 42.2% of the respondents had refused to attend Labour Disputes Commission meetings at least once. The main reasons for not attending included:

  • being unable to reconcile the demands of their main jobs and work at the commission (65.1%);
  • a meeting being held at an unsuitable time (25.6%).

Other reasons included the fact that preparation for the meeting and travel costs were at the expense of commission members.

Future participation in commissions

The majority of the respondents (79.4%) said they would be willing to take an active part in the work of Labour Disputes Commissions in the future. Around one in six (17.6%) admitted their participation would be minimal. Only one respondent planned to apply to be excluded from the list of members of the commission.

Commission members were asked what they felt reduced the efficiency of the commission, and about their motivation to participate in commission activities. Many of the respondents said they attended meetings because they found them interesting, and they provided opportunities to improve professional skills. However, inadequate pay was very frequently mentioned as one of the key factors affecting their motivation.

Organisation of work and working conditions

The survey asked Labour Disputes Commission chairs about workloads and working conditions. Nearly all chairs said their commission workloads were ‘very high’ (seven out of 11) or ‘high’ (three out of 11), as shown on Table 1. Only one person said the workload was ‘normal’.

Commission chair attitudes to workloads and working conditions
  Number of respondents % of respondents

The commission’s workloads are…

Low

0

0

Normal

1

9.1

High

3

27.3

Very high

7

63.6

Total

11

100

Working conditions (premises, technical support, availability of court judgement databases, etc.) are…

Very good

1

9.1

Good

1

9.1

Satisfactory

8

72.7

Unsatisfactory

1

9.1

Very bad

0

0

Total

11

100

When it came to working conditions, eight out of 11 respondents reported that aspects such as the premises, technical support, and availability of court judgement databases were ‘satisfactory’. When asked about possible improvements in working conditions, the respondents most frequently proposed:

  • better remuneration for chairs (eight respondents);
  • better technical conditions, such as more/better hardware, larger premises (seven respondents);
  • better pay for the secretary of the commission (six respondents);
  • better cooperation between structural units of the State Labour Inspectorate and the commission, to share such things as available information and survey findings (three respondents).

Reference

Petrylaitė, D., Petrylaitė, V., Blažienė, I., and Zabarauskaitė, R. (2013), Research on the possibilities of increasing the efficiency of labour dispute resolution – Final report, Research Council of Lithuania, Lithuanian Social Research Centre, Vilnius.

Rasa Zabarauskaite, Institute of Labour and Social Research

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