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NHS staff secure improved wage rights

Health workers across England should now be paid properly for every hour they’re at work during the pandemic, following an agreement reached between health unions and NHS employers.

Since March staff have been working flat out, treating and caring for patients, and keeping the NHS running under immense pressure – but often not getting paid for all the hours they put in, says UNISON.

Some NHS trusts have made sure staff are paid for every hour of overtime worked, but this hasn’t been the case everywhere.

That’s why 15 unions representing staff working in English NHS trusts – including UNISON, the Royal College of Nursing and the Royal College of Midwives – have agreed an overtime template with employers. This will now be used locally to ensure health workers across England get all the pay they are due.

In more normal times, NHS staff frequently work beyond their shifts – sometimes without payment or on reduced bank hourly rates.

But given the pressures the entire NHS team has been under in recent weeks – often working under extremely challenging and difficult conditions – unions were determined this situation couldn’t continue into the pandemic.

Ensuring proper payment for every hour worked for all NHS staff – including those on higher grades not usually able to claim overtime – was contained in a nine-point blueprint published by health unions in May.

This document sets out how the NHS can safely start to reopen many of the services forced to close as the pandemic hit, and includes measures around PPE supplies, social distancing and pay.

Commenting on the new agreement, UNISON head of health Sara Gorton said:

These are challenging times, and no one can deny the huge contribution staff across the NHS are making during the pandemic.

Every week people have been on their doorsteps, drives and balconies to show their support and appreciation. They will be pleased that health staff who go the extra mile should soon be going home with more money in their pockets.

But securing overtime pay for all is just the start. Health workers and the public will expect ministers to remember the applause long after the clapping has stopped – and especially when they sit down with unions and employers later in the summer to agree the next NHS pay rise.

Founder Member of Campaign Collective, chair of the Public Relations & Communications Association Charity and Not-For-Profit Group. Write mainly about charity, public sector and social enterprise campaigns.