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 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. See notes to editors for copy of GMB press release of January 2013 on the issue.
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 Regulations (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 have 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. See notes to editors for addresses of these homes.
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 the TUPE regulations.
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. Members can now look forward to receiving their hard earned back-pay as well as their correct salaries in future.
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.”
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."
Asha Wije, from Simpson Millar LLP retained by 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."
Contact: For further information contact Sheila Carlson, GMB Organiser, on 07793 008448 or Gavin Davies 07930 983 376 or GMB Press Office on 07921 289 880.
Notes to Editors
GMB press release dated Jan 2013
GMB HORLEY PROTEST ON FRIDAY (18TH) ON UP TO £16,000 PAY CUTS FOR STAFF CARING FOR VULNERABLE ADULTS FOR SURREY AND SUTTON COUNCILS
GMB call on Surrey County Council and Prospect Housing and Support Services to intervene to resolve this dispute as GMB hold a consultative ballot on possible industrial action
GMB, the union for care staff, is organizing a protest demonstration on Friday 18th January at the office of Prospect Housing and Support Services after more than half of all care staff received notice of dismissal because they would not agree to drastic cuts to their pay and conditions.
On 4th January 2013, the staff received letters from Ms Tosler CEO of Prospect Housing and Support Services stating 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. 268 staff are employed by Prospect Housing and Support Services of which more than half are GMB members.
The details of the protest are as follows:
From 8.15am to 9.30am Friday 18th January
outside Prospect Housing and Support Services offices
17 Massetts Road,
Surrey RH6 7DQ.
Prospect Housing and Support Services provide care for clients with adult learning disabilities within East and South Surrey.
They have 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. See notes to editors for details of homes.
Sheila Carlson GMB regional officer, said “Last October Surrey County Council, after a public value review, asked Prospect Housing and Support Services to undertake a cut to their budget in exchange for additional referrals. Instead of looking at whether Prospect could be run more efficiently, management issued the HR1 redundancy form and formal consultations started with Prospect Housing and Support Services executives pressing on with these massive cuts in terms and conditions and severe hardship for our members.
Staff members have now been given the choice of accepting up to £16,000 per annum wage cut or face the sack.
Prospect Housing and Support Services are blaming Surrey County Council for a lack of funding. This is denied by the Council. Surrey County Council has offered to meet with GMB and Prospect to find a way forward but CEO Deborah Tosler refused this offer.
Given this, GMB will now begin a consultative ballot for industrial action as this situation cannot be allowed to continue. If such action is to be averted then Surrey County Council and Board Members of Prospect Housing must immediately intervene to resolve this dispute.
GMB are concerned that vulnerable people who have been under the care of well qualified staff all of their lives will now be left without the support from people they regard as their family.
This attack on hardworking care staff has been handled appallingly from beginning to end. Staff have now lost all trust and confidence that Deborah Tosler is a fit person to run this organisation. She should do the decent thing for once and resign”.
Notes to editors
Prospect Housing and Support Services Care Homes are:
Cedarwood Lodge, Redhill 5 Residents, 9 Staff
Shrewsbury Road, Redhill 14 Residents, 22 staff, + 2 bank
Wolverton Gdns, Horley 5 Residents, 7 staff but should be 10.2 if up to full numbers
Woodview, Caterham 8 residents, 4 staff per shift, should be 16 as full quota but down to 10
London Road, Redhill 5 residents, 7 full time staff + 1 bank
Blanford Road, Reigate 6 residents, 12 staff
The Pines, Redhill
Most service users come via Surrey County Council referrals.
Also head office staff at the Gables incl CEO approx 22
Supported Living is mainly in the Sutton, Epsom areas with staff travelling from place to place in their own cars. Number not clear but most referrals from LB Sutton
Home based care is currently 160 hours per week delivered to 12 service users.