Unions urge employers to avoid 'own goal' on Platinum Jubilee celebrations

NHS Employers are insisting working hours and pay should be subject to local negotiation

Published: 03 March 2022 Trade Union & IR

The 14 NHS unions and professional associations have written a joint letter to NHS Employers urging them to agree to a single national agreement rewarding any staff who work over the Platinum Jubilee holiday with pay that mirrors the national agreed rates for normal Bank Holidays.

To date, the NHS Employers are insisting this should be open to local negotiation. In the past, additional public holidays have not carried the status of a full Bank Holiday. However, the unions have set out reasons why this time things are different.

SoR Executive Director Dean Rogers, who helped draft the union side response, said: “This additional holiday is exceptional for many reasons – there has never been a Platinum Jubilee before. The timing is also exceptional. This is an opportunity for the nation to celebrate and reflect together as we emerge from the end of the pandemic. NHS staff have made extraordinary sacrifices during the pandemic and will want to be able to participate in this special holiday with family, friends and their communities. Of course, in the background there is pressure to keep services running as on all public holidays, so some will not be able to. Those deserve to be fairly and properly recognised and rewarded for this additional sacrifice.

“The timing is also critical because all NHS Staff are looking for signs of what kind of place the NHS will be to work in post-Covid. They want to see positive, national leadership that backs up fine words about wanting to make their workplaces safer, fairer and more flexible with positive actions that recognise the value of the NHS workforce. They are looking for signals of real change. Taking a miserly approach and ducking national leadership risks wider consequences and would be a recruitment and retention own goal.”

Dean says he is hopeful the National Employers will reflect on the union’s request but is advising Representatives and members to stand firm where employers seek to reach local agreements.

“Our message, alongside the other unions, is clear. It is more complicated and evidently unfair to pay different rates for the different national public holidays in this period. No-one should feel pressed to reach a local agreement affording less on the Queen’s big day than a normal scheduled Bank Holiday.”