Victory for fairness – health workers win right to keep pay increases

by - 23rd February 2012, 16.59 GMT

An employment tribunal has today backed UNISON’s claim that health workers at a Manchester hospital should not be denied their incremental pay rise for taking time off work unwell.

The decision means that other hospital trusts will not be able to penalise health workers in a similar way.

Under nationally agreed terms and conditions, Agenda for Change, health workers advance one point up their pay band each year until they reach the top of the band. In October, the Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust imposed a new rule – any employee who is sick on 4 or more occasions in a year, or for 18 or more days in total, will lose that year’s increment.

UNISON first raised a grievance with the Trust, but when they refused to back down it lodged a tribunal case on behalf of more than 100 members who had been denied their incremental pay rise.  They took the case as it not only threatened to hit staff pay hard – potentially leaving them out of pocket for years – but could also hit their pension if they retired before they reached the top of their grade.

UNISON regional head of health Paul Foley said: “This is a victory for fairness. This decision means that other trusts will not be able to penalise health workers in a similar way. We hope this Manchester hospital trust now drops any further legal challenges, honours its obligations to pay incremental rises, and gets back to the day job of providing healthcare.

“The nature of working in a hospital, surrounded by ill people, means you’re more likely than in other jobs to become unwell. Many health jobs are also very physical – lifting and moving patients on an hourly basis –  the stresses and strains can cause injuries that people need time off to recover from. Hospitals should be there to care for people when they are ill – the last thing they should want is people coming into work when they are not well enough.”