GMB Win Tribunal TUPE Claim for Surrey Members
GMB win tribunal TUPE claim for Surrey members whose pay was cut in 2013 by up to £16,000 a year and had other cuts to terms and conditions.Members can now look forward to receiving their hard earned back-pay as well as their correct salaries in future says GMB.
Croydon Employment Tribunal has found in favour of 27 GMB members employed by Prospect Housing and Support Services in Surrey who in 2013 faced a threat that their employment would be terminated unless they accepted massive cuts of up to £16,000 a year to their salaries and further reductions to their terms and conditions.
The Tribunal ruled that an employer is not entitled to harmonise terms and conditions simply to remain competitive or tackle funding reductions. It ruled that to decide otherwise would wholly undermine the protection conferred by Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE).
Prospect Housing and Support Services provides care and support services to vulnerable adults with learning disabilities within East and South Surrey.
Prospect had approximately twelve large community residential homes for clients with disabilities and mild mental health issues. Care staff were compulsorily transferred from the NHS to Prospect Housing and Support Services. Prospect Housing and Support Services homes are in Redhill, Banstead, Caterham, Reigate, Horley and Charlwood. They also run Domiciliary Services and Independent Living Schemes.
In 2013, Prospect harmonised the terms and conditions of staff saying that the resultant savings had been required by Surrey County Council with some employees losing up to £16,000 per year.
GMB argued on behalf of its members that the variations were unlawful as the terms and conditions of the ex-NHS staff were protected by TUPE.
The Croydon Employment Tribunal agreed with GMB saying that an employer is not entitled to harmonise terms and conditions simply to remain competitive or tackle funding reductions. To decide otherwise would wholly undermine the protection conferred by TUPE.
The Tribunal further held that that there had been a clear decision to target the staff that had transferred into Prospect from the NHS under TUPE and that the changes to terms and conditions were therefore void.
Patricia Maloney, one of the employees who brought the case, said ‘I had 36 years’ continuous employment under my belt when Prospect imposed on me a £8,200 per year cut in my wages. I felt terrible to be treated like that after so many years of giving 100% to the job. I felt Prospect had no respect for staff.’
Sheila Carlson, GMB Organiser, said "GMB finally got justice for our hard working members working in the care sector.
All along we knew that the decisions that were being taken by Prospect were being made by the CEO, Deborah Tosler, and by her alone. We consistently stated that the harmonisation was wrong as it was targeting the staff that had transferred from the NHS and we have now been proved to be right. Deborah Tosler admitted in the Tribunal that she was incompetent. GMB call on her to now resign.
The Prospect case is indicative of the race to the bottom in the care sector. Companies start under the guise of working in the voluntary sector but then turn to driving down terms and conditions of employment at the expense of employees and to the detriment of residents.
Surrey County Council pay a maximum of £326.45 per week for residents who qualify for their residential care costs to be paid by the council. This is way below the £600 per week which is what is needed to provide decent care for our elderly and vulnerable provided by fairly paid staff. GMB will step up our campaign for Government to help councils to do so. Prospect should now join us in this campaign."
Another employee, Jacqueline Haffenden, also won her claim for unfair dismissal when she was dismissed by Prospect for refusing to accept the variation to her terms and conditions of employment.
Ms Haffenden stated, ‘when I transferred to Prospect in 2011, we were told that Prospect was not contemplating any changes to our terms and conditions of employment. We now know that that was not true and the Tribunal found that Prospect misled staff. The judgment highlights just how much Prospect failed to value and protect its staff.’
Simpson Millar LLP retained by the GMB to represent these members, said, ‘the whole point of TUPE is to protect the terms and conditions of employees in a relevant transfer. Prospect sought to disregard the TUPE legislation and, moreover, to attribute the blame for the cuts to Surrey County Council. Thankfully the court saw through this and the successful claimants can now look forward to receiving their hard earned back-pay as well as their correct remuneration going forward.’