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Nurses on night shifts during strike risk losing wages


Trusts have been told that nurses who leave night shifts early to join the strike, which kicks in at midnight tomorrow, could forfeit their wage for that entire shift.

Advice issued by Beachcroft solicitors partner Guy Bredenkamp to human resources directors said trusts did not have to pay staff for shifts that overlapped with the strike day and were only partly worked.

They should notify staff in advance that they were taking this approach, he said during a web seminar hosted last week by NHS Employers, which represents trusts.

Written guidance released by NHS Employers last Thursday added: “In principle employers are entitled to inform all night shift staff that they will not accept, or pay for, part-shifts: staff should either work a full shift or not attend work at all.”

NHS trusts are also being told they are under no obligation to pay staff unable to work because their child’s school has closed for the day due to striking teachers. Staff should instead be urged to plan alternative childcare arrangements well in advance, NHS Employers said.

In addition, anyone who calls in sick on the strike day will be expected to provide a doctor’s note and attend a “return to work” interview.

The 24-hour industrial action, expected to involve around three million public sector workers, is taking place after talks between unions and ministers on pensions stalled.

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander said last Thursday there was “no more money on the table” to drop proposals that would see the final salary pension scrapped, contributions increased and the retirement age raised to 68.

The government has offered to make anyone due to retire within the next 10 years immune from some of the changes, but unions say this is not enough. Nursing Times understands unions are keen to discuss whether this immunity could be “tapered” to protect staff in their late 40s.

Members of Unison, Unite and the GMB are taking part in the strike. The Royal College of Nursing announced last week it would meet on 10 January to discuss whether to take action as well.


Readers' comments (4)

  • I for one have just been informed by my childs school that they will now be closed tomorrow for the strike as it will be unsafe to run the school with the amount of staff that were coming in. Arranging childcare at such short notice is extremely difficult and very stressful.

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  • in all fairnuss if it was any other shift and someone just left half way through except for really exceptional reasons would lose their wages and it is irresponsable of nurses to leave the patient as it doing them harm and our whole mordern concept of nursing is built up around florence nightingales famous words a nurse should dot he patient no harm

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  • dale: an organised industrial dispute is not the same as walking out on your shift. If you could have looked up the spelling of 'fairness' you may have been taken a tad more seriously. Florence?, really?, are we still checking the pillow slips are placed so as not to let the sand gather?

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  • Little One

    I don't understand how this is fair, staff that have made the effort to cover the part of their shift that does not fall today will have this pay docked from them despite the fact that November 29th was not when the strike action began and if you leave a shift because of illness you would get paid for the hours that you worked?

    dale wootton | 29-Nov-2011 4:05 pm, if and when the RCN ballots it's members and if and when they vote to strike alongside their colleagues in other unions such as UNISON, it is for the management of the hospital to ensure that patient welfare is protected, not the individual nurse. No patient has come to harm because of this action today and if there are further days of action including the RCN, as they have suggested balloting their members in January, emergency services and truly important services such as dialysis would be protected because nurses are not selfish and heartless and we would never, willingly leave our patients to die.

    As for 'good old Florence', you realise that the number of people who died in her hospital in Scutari far outweighed the number of people that she saved, or that she was racist, not allowing Mary Seacole to join her caring for wounded soldiers with cholera, whom she was an expert at dealing with, because she was black, and classist with it, then calling Mary nothing better than a prostitute because she set up a hotel to care for soldiers who were not taken to the Hospital when her offer of help to join Florence's band of nurses was rejected? She was not the fantastic, angelic Lady with the Lamp all the time.

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