DATE: 6 August
An Employment Appeal Tribunal has backed UNISON’s claim that women working for St Helen’s and Knowsley NHS Trust are entitled to the same level of unsocial hours payments as men.
The Lancashire decision* paves the way for women at this trust and at other hospitals to challenge pay discrimination on the same grounds.
The women, working as healthcare assistants, domestic supervisors, and on reception, were paid time and one third for working on a Saturday, and time and two thirds for working on Sundays and bank holidays. But the men were paid at a higher rate of time and a half for Saturdays and double time for Sundays and bank holidays.
The trust claimed that unsocial hours payments were part of their staffs’ normal working week, and that payments for these hours could not be separated out from basic pay. Today, the Employment Appeal Tribunal has backed UNISON’s claim that unsocial hours payments are a separate term of the employment contract, and can be directly compared.
The case sets an important precedent, giving women at this trust and others, hope that they, too, can challenge unsocial hours payments that are more generous to men.
Dave Prentis, UNISON General Secretary, said:
“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.
“The employers have dragged their heels and forced these women to jump through legal hurdles in their fight for equality. They should now pay up, rather than wasting any more of the taxpayer’s precious funds on legal challenges.”
Information to Editors: *The case: Brownbill v St Helens and Knowsley.
From UNISON UK news release