Some 3,500 Unite health service reps are to be quizzed on whether NHS employers are applying bank holiday pay and time-off in lieu arrangements for the Diamond Jubilee on June 5.
It will be up to local NHS managers to decide whether they want to apply these arrangements for staff working in their trusts, but other public sector workers will be allowed to have the day off.
Unite says this is unfair, particularly as NHS workers have already endured pay freezes and hikes in pension contributions. It wants to find out which trusts will be regarding June 5 as a normal working day, and not paying staff the public holiday rates, with the intention of naming and shaming them.
The move follows the union’s letter to the Queen on behalf of its 100,000 members in the health service on this issue.
In a letter to health minister Simon Burns, Unite’s head of health, Rachael Maskell said: “Unite members across the NHS believe that it is inconsistent for the government to allow public sector employers in the NHS to treat this additional bank holiday as optional, as a normal working day, especially when other public sector employers will be recognising 5 June 2012 as a bank holiday.”
She continued: “It is illogical and inconsistent of this government not to give clear guidance to public sector employers […] and ensure that its public servants are treated equitably. This can only be seen as a further attack on NHS staff.”
Women would be particularly hard hit as they would have to stump up additional childcare costs, she said.
“We have written to Simon Burns as a matter of urgency to see if the minister will change his department’s advice to those trusts in England which are not honouring the spirit and letter of the government’s decision to declare 5 June as a public holiday,” said Ms Maskell. “We will ‘name-and-shame’ the employers who are backsliding on this.”
In her response to the union’s letter, the Queen said she had “taken careful note” of the union’s concern that some of its members might not be allowed to take June 5 as a public holiday.
But she said that this was “not matter in which The Queen would intervene.” However, she added that the letter had been passed to health secretary, Andrew Lansley “so he may […] consider the points you raise”.
In Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, NHS employers have decreed that staff will get an extra’s day holiday, but that pay will be at the normal rates.