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Nurses in Yorkshire offered stark choice over their NHS pension

South Yorkshire community nurses forced to accept inferior terms and conditions to protect their pension, unions claim.
Barnsley Town Hall

Community nurses in South Yorkshire have been forced to take on different terms and conditions after their jobs were transferred to a local authority, say unions.

A total of 115 health visitors, school nurses and community nurses at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust became employees of Barnsley Council when responsibility for the 0-19 service passed to the local authority on 1 October.

The service was transferred under TUPE Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) regulations, which protect employees existing employment terms and conditions. But Unite said Barnsley Council asked the nurses to give up their NHS terms and conditions which in some cases include the right to retire at 55 in return for retaining their NHS pension. Those who would not relinquish their NHS

Community nurses in South Yorkshire have been forced to take on different terms and conditions after their jobs were transferred to a local authority, say unions.


More than 100 nurses’ jobs are now in the hands of Barnsley Council Photo: Alamy

A total of 115 health visitors, school nurses and community nurses at South West Yorkshire Partnership NHS Foundation Trust became employees of Barnsley Council when responsibility for the 0-19 service passed to the local authority on 1 October.

The service was transferred under TUPE – Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) – regulations, which protect employees’ existing employment terms and conditions. But Unite said Barnsley Council asked the nurses to give up their NHS terms and conditions – which in some cases include the right to retire at 55 – in return for retaining their NHS pension. Those who would not relinquish their NHS pensions were obliged to take on the council’s terms and conditions, nursing unions claim.

Agenda for Change conditions

RCN Yorkshire and the Humber regional director Glenn Turp told Nursing Standard the college was following the situation closely. He said some nurses had already left the service.

‘This is the first case of its type in this region, where an employer has given its staff a very stark choice between keeping their Agenda for Change terms and conditions or their NHS pension,’ he said.

‘Barnsley Council has been bullish in the way it has dealt with NHS staff moving across – because of the choice staff faced between NHS pay or NHS pensions, they are looking to move. Thirty have already moved to neighbouring organistions with better terms and conditions.

‘This service has been on the front line tackling significant health and social care inequalities in this part of South Yorkshire. Never has Barnsley needed its health visitors and community staff more. But now it is facing a potential recruitment and retention problem and the council will struggle to find the nursing staff it needs.’

Members’ pension fears

Unite lead officer for health in Yorkshire Terry Cunliffe said: ‘A number of our members with long-standing NHS pensions were forced to take worse terms and conditions when they moved over to the council, rather than lose the continuity of their NHS pension.

‘What has happened is a deliberate and insidious undermining of the TUPE legislation by a council that should know better. It is a travesty of natural justice and Unite is preparing a legal response.’

Barnsley Council cabinet spokesperson for public health Jim Andrews said staff had been given the choice to remain under NHS terms and conditions or move to those of the council. 

‘Those who chose to remain under the NHS terms have retained their redundancy entitlements, pay rates and annual leave entitlements,’ he said. ‘Some of these offer additional benefits and are protected in accordance with the TUPE legislation.’

Extra leave

The council said health visitors who opted to move over to the council’s terms and conditions were entitled to an extra day’s leave.

‘The council values all of its staff and recognises they provide invaluable services to the public of Barnsley.

‘We have been nationally recognised as a good employer, as evidenced in our recent Investors in People gold accreditation, which all of our staff are very proud of.’

The council did not comment on the NHS pension.


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