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Nurse challenges pay deduction

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A Norfolk staff nurse is taking on her trust over its payroll policy, after hundreds of pounds were docked from her wages.

A paperwork error at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust meant that staff nurse Hazel Bush received too much sick pay in December last year.

Initially the trust thought that Ms Bush had been overpaid by £84 and informed her of this in May. But further investigation revealed the overpayment was £361.72, which the trust reclaimed in its entirety from Ms Bush’s wages in June.

Ms Bush is calling for the trust to change its policy, which currently allows it to deduct up to 25% of nurses’ wages in one go in the event of an overpayment, adding that she was considering taking legal action over the issue.

Ms Bush said: ‘It has happened to other people in the trust and it has been happening for quite a few years.

‘This has made me ill – it has made me so angry and financially it has hurt me too. I am one small voice that is shouting about this and nobody is listening,’ she told NT.

The trust will only give a loan to allow overpayments to be paid back gradually if the error accounts for more than 25%
of a staff member’s monthly net wages – or if they can demonstrate ‘hardship’, a Freedom of Information request by NT revealed.

A trust spokesperson said: ‘If information which affects pay is received too late for entry in one month it will be corrected in the following month. This can result in a reduction in pay.

‘However, the trust has processes in place to ensure employees are not adversely affected by this,’ she added.

But Mike Jackson, Unison’s senior national officer, said the trust’s overpayment policy was outside of the national Agenda for Change agreement. He added that in less clear cases it might be possible to claim legal entitlement to the money and not pay it back.

‘If she was working variable hours it might be difficult to tell whether she had been overpaid,’ he said. ‘In this case, a member of staff can claim “estoppel” and argue that the money was in fact theirs.’

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