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Rescinding pay rise would give staff ‘severe financial problems’

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ALLIED health professionals are preparing to launch an appeal against a States decision to rescind a 2017 pay rise which they say could leave some facing ‘severe financial problems’.

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Some of those directly affected claim they are facing financial hardship as a result of the decision, with some having made changes to their mortgage repayments owing to their salary increase and one having a divorce settlement based on her increased wage which will now leave her struggling financially.

AHPs include occupational therapists, physiotherapists, radiographers and pharmacists.

The grading of their roles was re-evaluated in November 2017 – with a number of AHPs and social workers being moved up multiple pay grades – as part of the workforce modernisation programme.

However, a report this week found that the increases were ‘not appropriate’ and the States Employment Board announced that 126 staff within the Health Department would be moved back to their original pay group.

Now, AHPs are meeting to discuss their next action with one of those directly affected saying the States is ‘completely wrong’ to remove the pay awards.

One of those impacted by the SEB decision, who has asked to remain anonymous, said that a number of staff that had been affected were now facing ‘severe financial problems’.

The AHP said: ‘There is a lady who has been through a divorce and the settlement for the divorce was based on her current salary. She can’t afford to go back to court for resettlement and is now going to struggle to pay her mortgage and to live.

‘There are others who changed their mortgage repayments as a result of the salary rises and now can’t afford them. We are paying for last year’s tax so we will be paying tax on a reduced salary and there are plenty of other examples of people who had planned their spending based on these salaries who are going to struggle because of this.’

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Members of staff impacted will not be asked to repay their extra salaries, but will have the pay dropped is April. It is estimated that the mistake has cost the taxpayer about £750,000.

The SEB is already facing extreme criticism from large sections of the civil service for its handling of a long-running pay dispute. AHPs said the latest decision provided ‘another example of how poorly they treated their staff’.

The review was carried out by job evaluation specialists from NHS Wales, who found the ‘uplift goes to the heart of the current dispute and grievance with nursing and midwifery staff in respect of equal pay for work of equal value’.

It added that the outcome had been ‘disastrous for industrial relations and staff engagement in the Health Department’ and had set ‘colleague against colleague’.

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The Health employee added: ‘You can’t give somebody a salary for a year, then take it away.

‘They undertook a commitment to give us that money and are now saying “we made a mistake”. They do need to have a proper job re-evaluation across all workers and all grades but to tell everyone who got an uplift that their job didn’t merit one is wrong.’

The employee added that discussions were in the ‘early stages’ but that at least 82 of the 126 affected had indicated they were ready to fight against the pay drops. They added it was a ‘double whammy’ as they are already unhappy with the ongoing pay discussions which offer below-inflation rises in many cases.

‘We are not going to leave this alone,’ they said. ‘It is a very important issue for all States staff. This is about how the employer is treating its staff. If they can do that to us, then they can to that to anybody.

‘It is another States of Jersey problem where somebody makes a huge, big stonking mistake and they try to put it right by making another huge, big stonking mistake.’

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