Unison defends NHS employer over six-year backdated pay delay

Union says issue of short-changed staff at NHS Tayside is 'incredibly complex'

A union has defended the time taken by an employer to correct a payroll mistake in which thousands of nurses were underpaid.

NHS Tayside still has to calculate 25% of its back payments – believed to be worth £1 million – six years after the problem was discovered. 

The error, which affected the whole of Scotland, meant between 2008-10 all non-medical staff in the NHS were paid only day shift rates while on annual leave. Under Agenda for Change staff receive 30% extra for nights and Saturdays and 60% for Sundays and public holidays.

The RCN and Unison were among unions to secure back payments for nurses without the need for lengthy and costly legal proceedings.

NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the largest health board in Scotland, was the first to reimburse staff in 2010 and since then, the other 13 health boards have been following suit.

Concerns about Tayside emerged last week when an RCN spokesperson said it was increasingly difficult for nurses to manage financially.

However, Unison’s Scotland lead officer for health Matt McLaughlin defended Tayside, saying the issue was 'incredibly complex’.

He added: ‘I appreciate staff have been frustrated, but if we had taken legal action it would not have resolved this any quicker and would have cost considerably more. By working with the employers we have avoided that and are finally sorting this matter out.’

NHS Tayside controls 22 hospitals in Angus, Dundee and Perth and Kinross, employing 30,000 staff. A spokesperson said: 'Changes to NHS terms and conditions reflecting the requirements of the Working Time Regulations, meant all NHS Scotland boards were required to amend the way they calculated annual leave payments. Essentially this meant staff are paid "as if at work" to include a portion of their annual leave at an enhanced rate, where entitled.

'In December 2015, NHS Tayside Board agreed that, for the majority of current staff who had an entitlement to backdated payment, an interim payment of 75% of the full arrears should be made. This was paid.

'Since then, a team that includes staff side representatives has been working to confirm any final payments due. This work will allow the board to pay any outstanding balance, subject to sign-off as final settlement by the individual employee.

'We hope to communicate with all staff in the near future to confirm the position.'

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