NHS Employers and health service trade unions have launched a consultation about proposed new redundancy and early retirement arrangements for NHS staff.
Staff and employers are being asked for their views about plans drawn up and agreed jointly by NHS Employers on behalf of the Department of Health, Scottish Executive and Welsh Assembly and the trade unions.
The proposals are a result of the age discrimination legislation that comes into force in October. The legislation outlaws discrimination on age grounds unless it is covered by an exemption or “objectively justified”.
The existing NHS redundancy and early retirement arrangements have a number of age-related thresholds that give different benefits to people of different ages.
NHS Employers project manager Tim Sands said: “Our main aim is to introduce fairer redundancy arrangements for everyone that also comply with the new age legislation.
“Under the current system, a 40-year-old who is made redundant on a salary of £25,000 after 20 years’ service, would receive a redundancy package worth just over £9,000. If they were aged 41 when they were made redundant, with same salary and service years, they would get a package worth just over £19,000.
“If they were 50, they could get a package worth just over £119,000. This simply isn’t fair.”
Mike Jackson, senior national officer (health) at Unison, said: “There’s been some hard bargaining but we now have a proposal that is both fair and meets the spirit and letter of the age discrimination regulations. Trade unions will be undertaking their own consultation with their members over the next six weeks and we hope that the proposals will be well received”.
NHS Employers is seeking views on the following proposals:
- having a flat rate redundancy offer of one month’s pay per year of service with a maximum of 24 months pay
- staff over the minimum pension age should be able to retire early on redundancy with no reduction in the value of their pensions
- the possibility for staff to take early retirement in the interests of the service without the value of their pension being reduced
- transitional protection to be provided for existing staff until 30 September 2011.
The consultation will run until 11 September. Following this, NHS Employers and the trade unions will consider all responses before making final recommendations to the Departments of Health.