Although Covid-19 has naturally taken up the lion’s share of the branch’s efforts over the last few weeks, there are some issues which are too important to be left untouched.
One of these is term-time only (TTO) pay. Members will recall that UNISON successfully took a legal case which established that some employers were not correctly applying holiday entitlements to term-time only pay. This case is known as the Brazel case, after the UNISON member who was supported and won her legal case.
The Brazel case led to the settlement of claims for UNISON members late last year in both East Sussex County Council and Brighton & Hove Council. West Sussex County Council has been slower to respond, and this is connected to the difficulties WSCC has had in recent months with the departure of its Chief Executive and other senior staff.
The West Sussex branch has now established a firm basis with WSCC HR to proceed on term-time only pay and has had two meetings. The latter of these was a conference call due to Covid-19.
We are still in the phase of establishing the principles for engagement and resolution of the issue, which is a highly complex one. Members should note the following:
Settlement date and backpay
Due to the Covid-19 pandemic WSCC cannot commit to settling this matter by the end of school term (July 20). However, WSCC has indicated that it would be possible to include leavers in any settlement. UNISON has argued that all employees in scope as at January 2020 should be included in settlement.
This means that if current UNISON members leave the employment of WSCC after July 2020, WSCC will still seek to settle any outstanding claims with ex-staff. Back-payment will be applicable and UNISON has notified WSCC that we believe this should be for a period of six years.
Schools and non-schools staff are in scope, but the great majority of TTO staff are support staff in schools.
We believe that staff in scope are only the following: NJC Grades 1-7 with less than 5 completed years of service and working a 38, 39 or 40-week year.
If you passed your fifth year anniversary of employment only very recently, you may have been underpaid for the period before that and you will be in scope.
The settlements in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove will have been made for higher sums than will be applicable in WSCC. This is because in East Sussex and Brighton & Hove those councils made a significant additional mistake in their TTO pay calculations which WSCC has not made. WSCC has however, like East Sussex and Brighton & Hove, underpaid annual leave below the 28 days statutory minimum entitlement (the essence of the Brazel case).
In West Sussex, we are also exploring potential underpayments connected to the failure to universally uprate leave entitlements from 23 to 27 days at the fifth year anniversary of employment.
Non-members of UNISON must join UNISON to benefit from our support at this crucial time. Please point out to your colleagues who are not members the work the West Sussex branch is undertaking and ask them to join!