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Cath Everett

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Antisocial hours still need equal pay

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A ruling that female workers at an NHS Trust in Merseyside are entitled to the same level of payment for working antisocial hours as men could open the way to similar claims elsewhere.
 

The women, who were employed by St Helen’s and Knowsley NHS Trust in roles ranging from healthcare assistants, domestic supervisors and receptionists, have been fighting the case for six years with the backing of Unison.
 
Their compliant came about because they were paid time and a third for working on Saturdays and time and two thirds for working on Sundays and bank holidays, while male colleagues on equivalent pay scales were paid time and a half on Saturdays and double time for Sundays and bank holidays.
 
An initial hearing by a Tribunal in Newcastle in December had ruled that antisocial hours payment were part of employees’ normal working week and so could not be separated out from basic pay.
 
But an appeal hearing, which took place in London, found that antisocial hours payments were a separate term in employment contracts and, as a result, could be compared directly.
 
Dave Prentice, general secretary at Unison, said the case set an important precedent in tackling pay discrimination.
 
“It is more than 40 years since the Equal Pay Act, and long overdue for employers to face up to their responsibilities to pay men and women equally. The decision made in this case clarifies that unsocial hours payments must also be 100% fair and equal.”
 
But a Trust spokesperson told the Liverpool Daily Post that: “A number of Trusts are being used as test cases for national equal pay challenges regarding previous NHS pay arrangements, which were superseded in October 2004. The ruling concerns a minor technical issue regarding unsocial hours payments, which do not form part of the new NHS pay arrangements.”

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