South Down MP Margaret Ritchie is concerned at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trusts’s move to change the pay arrangements for staff at the Downe Hospital.
Ms Ritchie said: “ I have been contacted by staff in the Downe Hospital who were invited to attend a meeting on Friday the 1st of July at the Downe Hospital to discuss changing wage payments from a weekly to a monthly cycle.
“Many are opposed to this change which is largely affecting workers on a band one payment scale.
“This proposal is naturally causing a lot of anxiety, distress and concern for staff who depend on their wage each week in order to meet pressing bills and other financial demands. It is also more difficult to budget any monthly wage, and this is causing significant worry for workers.
“It is extremely unfair and unjust that the lowest paid workers in the Hospital will be hit by this change. Consideration also needs to be given as to how employees will cope during the first month this changeover will take place, as staff will still have to pay bills and living expenses during this period, yet will not be receiving their pay until the end of the month.
“Naturally, it is also more difficult to budget any monthly wage, but this first change over month in particular will cause significant and unnecessary hardship.
“I have raised by immediate concerns with the Chief Executive of the Trust and advised him in the strongest terms of the concerns of many of his staff. The Trust must acknowledge that any change to payments of wages will have a significant effect on the lives of their employees. I will also be questioning the Chief Executive to determine what consultation has taken place with staff and trade unions. ”
A Trust spokesperson said: “From September 2016 all staff, with the exception of Bank Staff within Health and Social Care will be paid monthly. This change is required to ensure that payroll arrangements operate more efficiently and effectively.
“The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust acknowledges that the transition from weekly/fortnightly to monthly pay arrangements may be difficult for staff. We are committed to mitigating the impact on staff as a result of the change in pay frequency and have put in place a number of measures to inform and support staff through the process. These include:
* The opportunity for staff to attend staff information sessions where staff can ask questions and raise concerns about the planned change;
* A regular schedule of communication to affected staff to ensure they are continually updated;
* The development of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ’s) to ensure staff are kept fully informed and have an understanding of the potential impact of the move to a monthly pay frequency;
* The opportunity for staff to receive specific independent financial advice and support from the Citizen’s Advice Bureau;
* The provision of a salary advance arrangement which has been offered to help over the transition period.
“Discussions continue to take place with Trade Unions regionally and the Trust hopes that agreement can be reached before the planned implementation date.“
Down News understands the the Trust has offered its staff affected an optional £1000 per employee to make the transition possible with a payback of £80 per month, effectively over the following year. However, this arrangement may not suit all employees.