COVID-19: nurses ‘should receive overtime payments for pandemic work’

Unions call for swift action by employers, after government says overtime pay can be decided locally

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Employers should act quickly on overtime pay for nursing staff to reflect the extraordinary efforts of NHS staff during the pandemic, nursing unions say.

Unions agree on overtime guidance for employers 

The RCN and 14 other staffing unions have agreed on guidance for employers, published by the NHS Staff Council on the NHS Employers website, which recommends that staff should be paid for overtime they work during the pandemic.

The guidance suggests the introduction of temporary measures, including an extension of overtime payments to all staff in bands 1-7, but does not mention the prospect of backdating payments.

Health secretary Matt Hancock confirmed that he was ‘content to leave the matter for local determination rather than agree a proposal for a national solution’, meaning the onus is on employers to take action to agree arrangements.

Susan Masters: ‘Employers can now
change their policies on paying overtime’

The RCN said that employers should act as soon as possible and not wait to review overtime policies.

RCN will lead discussions with employers about setting overtime pay

In a statement, RCN director of nursing, policy and practice Susan Masters said: 'Individual employers now have the national support needed to change their local policies on paying overtime.

'Representatives from the RCN and other unions will be leading those conversations to ensure our members are paid fairly for their extra work.'

Unison head of health Sara Gorton said overtime rates for staff in bands 1-7 'should be set at time and a half' but acknowledged there was variation in the way rates were applied between organisations and within different occupations in the same trusts. 

Sara Gorton: ‘Staff should be paid for all
the hours they work during the pandemic’ 

'Standard handbook overtime rates should be introduced as a minimum for all Agenda for Change staff and all staff should be paid for all the hours they work during the pandemic,' she said.

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Employers urged to ‘consider the huge amount of effort’ from staff

Ms Gorton added that, when discussing overtime arrangements, employers should remember the efforts of NHS staff during pandemic.

'When having discussions with unions locally, other employers should consider the huge amount of effort already contributed by staff since the lockdown began.'

The Department of Health and Social Care was contacted for comment. 

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