Ambulance workers to receive holiday pay for “overruns”

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Ambulance workers in four counties will receive backdated holiday pay after a victorious claim for “overrun” payments.

The South Central Ambulance Service (SCAS), which covers Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire, has agreed to a claim made by Unison that employees’ holiday pay should include payment for the regular occasions when crews need to attend a patient after their shift has ended.

Unison said: “These are incidents of involuntary overtime worked by ambulance crews who attend a patient just before the end of their shift. The crews cannot simply walk away when their shift finishes and so end up working extra hours.”

SCAS has agreed that the amount of pay ambulance staff receive when they are on holiday will now include a calculation based upon any time regularly worked as “overruns”.

The payments will be backdated to last April, and the way in which the payments will be worked out is yet to be confirmed.

This is the latest in a series of holiday pay claims to be settled outside of a tribunal setting, following the recent decisions in the cases of Lock vs British Gas Ltd and Bear Scotland.

These cases have established a principle that holiday pay should reflect normal earnings – which may mean including commission or overtime if they are a typical element of pay.

Last December, the Police Federation of England and Wales agreed to include overtime in officers’ holiday pay.

South Central Ambulance branch secretary for Unison Gavin Bashford said: “This is a victory for common sense. It shows SCAS values its staff. It will help make the service more attractive as an employer, and will hopefully reduce the number of ‘overruns’ ambulance staff need to work.

“Ambulance workers would clearly prefer that there were no ‘overruns’ at all. Excessive hours and a lack of a decent work/life balance are the most commonly cited reasons when people leave the service.

“A two-hour ‘overrun’ can make a 10-hour shift unbearable, and staff know that they could earn the same money elsewhere, for far less stressful work and with much better hours.”

According to the union, SCAS and other trusts currently run a vacancy rate of around 20% to recruit paramedics, which has contributed to the need to work the extra time.

Bashford added: “Without a decent level of funding for the NHS, ambulance staff will continue to work under difficult and challenging conditions. What we really need is for our excellent health service to be properly funded.”

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