Aer Lingus management and unions have concluded final proposals on pay and work practice reforms in an attempt to address the collapse in aviation traffic and revenue due to the Covid-19 emergency.

Union sources said the "understanding" entitled "Covid Crisis Recovery Plan 2020" will avoid the requirement for cutting pay and hours to 30% of normal, and avert previously announced job losses, including Shannon.

The document provides that where hours fall below 50%, staff will continue to be paid 50% of salary, but that any excess will be deemed an "overpayment", to be recouped at a later date.

The Aer Lingus proposals rule out pay claims that would take effect before the expiry of the deal in February 2022, but leave open the possibility of "recognition" payments after that date, depending on the state of the business.

The Covid Recovery Plan states: "It is accepted by the parties that the measures contained in this document represent the best option for preventing further job losses or pay cuts."

The union sources confirmed that the proposed agreement will not be put to a ballot of staff, because the work practice reforms outlined are already encompassed by existing collective agreements.

However, individual unions have been briefing their members in recent days and their key committees will meet with officials tomorrow.

A spokesperson for Aer Lingus said discussions were ongoing and at an advanced stage with the Irish Congress of Trade Unions and the group of unions representing Aer Lingus employees.

According to the Covid Crisis Recovery Plan 2020, change agendas identified by management must be implemented in full "at the earliest opportunity" to ensure Aer Lingus's competitiveness going forward "in order to save employment to the greatest extent possible".

Work practice changes outlined in the document are "permanent and will remain in place until otherwise agreed with the parties".

A previous draft had described the proposed changes as "irrevocable" and lasting "in perpetuity".

No pay claims may be served by unions that would take effect before the understanding expires in February 2022.

The volume of work will vary between departments/work groups depending on operational requirements meaning that:  "In general, pay will reflect work available. Work is defined as the amount of days rostered and worked, e.g. 3 days' work rostered in a week will result in 60% pay."

Pay will increase as work increases e.g. when work moves to 70%, pay will move to 70%.

Up to the end of August, a small number of people in specific required roles may be offered 100% rostered hours, and will be paid at 75%.

If the work requirement for any group falls below 50% of hours, Aer Lingus will maintain basic pay for staff in those areas at 50%, regardless of the work available.

The additional payments (net of the Temporary Wage Subsidy Scheme where applicable) will be treated as "overpayments" to the individual staff members, and will be subject to "recovery" from the work group involved.

"The parties will immediately commence discussions to agree a process to measure, monitor and implement any overpayment. It is understood that any recovery will not be sought before returning the work group in question to minimum of 95% of basic pay," the document states.

"Recognising the above, at an appropriate time in the future the contribution of Aer Lingus employees in delivering these required changes will be recognised," it continues.

It goes on to say that Aer Lingus recognises that the right of trade unions to process claims and issues "in the normal manner" will continue within the context of this agreement.

In a section entitled "Continuity of Work", the document notes that should any individual or collective issue arise, staff will "work under protest", but the parties will immediately engage as necessary and avail of various processes to ensure a speedy resolution.

For its part, Aer Lingus "aspires" to restoring pay and hours "at the earliest feasible time that the market and operating conditions allow" - and most likely on  phased basis. 

"For the avoidance of any doubt, pay will be restored as work is restored," the document states.

However, it also cautions: "Should the situation materially deteriorate (e.g. a second wave or extended quarantine) then it may be necessary to re-visit these measures."