Call for emergency fund to support NHS workers facing delayed wages
An emergency fund should be set up to help NHS workers at Hairmyres Hospital facing a potential delay of their wages due to a new payroll system, Scottish Labour MSP Monica Lennon has said.
The new system is set to be introduced at the hospital in East Kilbride this month by NHS sub-contractor ISS, with fears that the change could cause financial hardship for staff.
Currently, payments are made in arrears on a fortnightly basis, however during the rollout of the new system it is claimed there are plans for staff wages to be delayed for one week on the first payment.
It would mean workers receiving two weeks pay covering a three-week period, with a week’s worth of wages retained by the employer.
Workers who could struggle to make ends meet have been offered “bridging loans” to help make up the shortfall, although the money would have to be paid back to the employer.
According to employees who applied for loans, some have still not received them.
In a letter to Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, Scottish Labour’s health spokeswoman Monica Lennon requested that funding be granted to support the workers.
Ms Lennon and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard also addressed a rally of workers who held a protest outside the Scottish Parliament on Thursday.
“It is scandalous that hospital workers are being forced to fight for their wages and are having to consider industrial action,” said Ms Lennon.
“I have called on NHS Lanarkshire to work with the GMB and Unison to put an emergency fund in place for low-paid, frontline staff who need urgent assistance.
“The possibility of industrial action is growing.
“NHS Lanarkshire must urgently send out a hard message to Prospect Healthcare and its sub-contractor ISS that this conduct breaches the principles of fair work, and will not be tolerated in our health service.”
A spokeswoman for the Scottish Government said: “The Health Secretary wrote to both ISS UK’s managing director of healthcare and chief executive officer to express concerns about the financial impact of these changes on staff at Harimyres Hospital, who are a vital part of our NHS Scotland staff.
“We welcome the ISS proposal to provide an interest free bridging loan to cover the additional six days’ pay now being withheld from staff and which are to be repaid over a 20-week period.
“ISS is a PFI contractor appointed in 2001 during the reconstruction of the hospital. It provides facilities services at Hairmyres Hospital, and its staff are valued members of the local healthcare team.
“Senior staff at NHS Lanarkshire are in dialogue with ISS and a dedicated helpdesk has been set up by ISS, offering help to individual members of staff who wish to discuss changes in the payroll system.”