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1,300 trust staff secure ‘special leave’ in lieu of covid bonus

Published on: 27 Jun 2024

Trust staff who were denied a £1,600 covid bonus will now receive extra holidays worth the same amount.

Trade union Unite had been campaigning to ensure low-paid staff at Barts Health Trust received the “covid bonus” given to other NHS staff. The workers involved missed out on the bonus because they were transferred back to the NHS from outsourcing provider Serco a few weeks after the deadline for the payment.

The union yesterday announced it had secured an equivalent to the £1,600 bonus in the form of “special leave” which will be granted to around 1,300 porters, cleaners and facilities staff.

In April, HSJ reported NHSE had reversed an earlier decision that the staff “did not meet the [government’s] qualifying criteria for this payment”. Directors at Barts told staff that “the NHSE executive team” were initially concerned the move could set a precedent. After NHSE’s change of heart, workers were told the Treasury would still need to approve any payment.

Unite said it had also won a similar sum for linens and bedding workers at the trust and employed by Synergy.

A spokesperson for Barts Health Trust said: “We are pleased to have reached an agreement with the unions representing cleaners, porters, domestics and security staff across our hospitals. We believe this decision brings parity to all of our colleagues that were transferred from Serco.”

Unite’s “tactics” in the Barts dispute had included demonstrations held at NHS England offices and the “targeting” of Barts chair Jacqui Smith. In March the union urged members to protest at one of the former Labour home secretary’s appearances on Good Morning Britain.

In the last 11 months, the union has won similar payments for workers at three other trusts – Yorkshire Ambulance ServiceThe Dudley Group  and the East Kent Hospitals University.

NHSE has been approached for comment. Ms Smith declined to comment.


This story was amended at 12.38 on June 28th to make clear Jacqui Smith is not a dame.