Hospital workers refused Wedding bank holiday pay

NORTH London hospital staff will not be getting into the Royal Wedding spirit on April 29 when they are forced to work without bank holiday pay rates.

Royal Free and Whittington employees will be offered a day in lieu instead of bank holiday pay, which can range from double time to plus 60 per cent.

The two hospitals – as well as St Mary’s in Paddington – are among 115 health trusts in England not to offer holiday pay to their workers.

Under the national Agenda for Change agreement, staff are entitled to eight bank holidays a year where pay is enhanced.

The wedding is an extra bank holiday, announced by the government.

But health union Unite says some trusts are using the national agreement to break the spirit of the government’s decision to give workers an extra bank holiday.

Unite national officer for health, Rachael Maskell, said: “NHS staff will be saving lives, looking after the sick and preparing for emergencies while most of Britain will be taking a well-earned break or celebrating the Royal Wedding.

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“Despite the dedication and the huge pressure on NHS staff, a significant number of NHS trusts are stubbornly refusing to pay bank holiday rates for working during the Royal Wedding.

“The government has given the country an extra bank holiday to mark the wedding but NHS trust chief executives on six figure salaries are refusing to recognise the spirit of the occasion.

“These trusts still have time to do the right thing and recognise the valuable contribution NHS staff make to this country.”

A Royal Free spokeswoman justified the move, saying: “The Royal Free is one of 115 NHS organisations which has followed guidance issued by NHS Employers for employment arrangements on April 29.

“Where staff are needed to work on April 29, they will be entitled to a day off in lieu at a later date. All other staff will be entitled to a day’s paid leave.”

She added that the British Medical Association accepted the guidance issued by NHS Employers that the April 29 was not a bank holiday but some other unions did not. It was then left to individual NHS trusts to decide their own arrangements.

A Whittington Health spokeswoman echoed the Royal Free, saying: “The Royal Wedding bank holiday in 2011 is an additional bank holiday and is not covered within the national terms for Whittington health staff.

“As this is an additional holiday, it has been agreed staff will receive a day lieu if rostered to work the day of the Royal Wedding bank holiday.”