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Trust bids for settlement in landmark NHS employment case

Published on: 14 Jul 2021

A high-profile employment case has been postponed as the trust and staff members involved try to reach a settlement.

East of England Ambulance Service Trust said it was trying to settle its long-running case about how voluntary overtime was reflected in holiday pay, a development revealed in trust board papers published this week.

EEAST lost its case at the Court of Appeal in June 2019. It was given permission to appeal to the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the UK and the final court for civil cases in the UK.

The trust’s appeal was removed from the Supreme Court’s hearing dates last month, just before proceedings were due to begin, following what the court referred to as “communications from the parties”.

A report to the EEAST board this week said: “The Supreme Court case has been postponed in order for discussions to take place with the 13 claimants [involved], with the anticipation that [a] settlement will be reached.

“There is an ongoing risk to the trust from any duty under the Equalities Act to have considered any member of staff excluded from claiming because they didn’t meet the regularity criteria as a result of [their] protected characteristics.

“It is unclear whether any claims arising from this would be centrally funded.”

The report previously stated the Treasury would cover the payment. However, the trust later told HSJ this was “not accurate” before the board papers were updated.

The news also comes after the NHS staff council agreed to a framework to enable English NHS employers to resolve issues relating to corrective holiday pay, while on annual leave, this March.

NHS leaders had long been concerned the EEAST case could set a legal precedent. However, a senior employment lawyer told HSJ the deal reached between NHS Employers and unions in March avoided a “potential floodgate” of claims.

Danny Mortimer, NHS Employers chief executive and NHS Confederation deputy chief executive, said: “This national agreement was approved by the secretary of state for health and social care, has been accepted by trade union members and is being implemented.

“The specific court cases are a matter for the trust involved.”

EEAST declined to comment beyond what was reported in its board papers.