Your Rights on Pay
In this article we go through the rights you should expect regarding your pay – including sick pay and maternity pay – and what to do if you need to challenge your employer.
You have the legal right to a payslip which shows how your pay has been calculated. Payslips must be provided on or before payday (Payment of Wages Act 1991).
You should check your payslip for the following;
- correct number of hours worked
- correct grade
- whether you’ve been paid any sick pay, holiday pay or maternity pay that you were expecting
- any unexpected deductions
If you haven’t been paid for all the hours that you have worked, use rotas or emails from employers confirming shifts as evidence for your work record.
Pay is normally monthly, with a set date each month that should be included in your contract. If the Trust fails to pay you on the specified date, this could be considered a breach of contract and you have the right to recover costs incurred to you as a result of the late payment.
Your employer is not allowed to make deductions from your salary unless certain criteria are met:
- it’s required or allowed by law, eg National Insurance, income tax or student loan repayments
- you agree in writing
- your contract says they can
- there’s a statutory payment due to a public authority
- you have not worked due to taking part in a strike or industrial action
- there’s been an earlier overpayment of wages or expenses
- it’s a result of a court order
If they make a deduction that isn’t for one of these reasons you can follow the three steps below to get the money back that you are owed.
The duration of sick pay that you are entitled to depends on how long you’ve worked in the NHS:
The definition of full pay includes regularly paid enhancements, allowances, premia and London weighting.
Although you may be moving from trust to trust frequently, the time you spend in continuous employment by the NHS will count towards your sick pay entitlement. Any career breaks from the NHS of longer than 12 months will re-set the clock.
Further information can be found in the NHS Terms and Conditions of Service.
All pregnant employees are entitled to 52 weeks of maternity leave regardless of length of service.
There are different types of maternity pay:
- Occupational Maternity Pay: Employees with 12 months continuous service (this means no breaks of longer than a week between different NHS jobs) who intend to return to NHS for at least 3 months at the end of their maternity leave are entitled to this
- Statutory Maternity Pay: Employees with at least 26 weeks of continuous service (by the beginning of week 25 of pregnancy) are entitled to this
- Maternity Allowance: Employees who do not qualify for OMP or SMP are entitled to receive maternity allowance from the government – see here for more details.
How to recover pay
There are three steps to take if you have not been paid on time/correctly:
- Speak to your trade union representative (if you are a member). They will be able to do the legwork in talking to your employer and ensuring you are paid what you are owed.
- Raise a grievance. There may be a formal grievance procedure in your trust but you can also write an email/letter to the medical staffing department in human resources, include in your email why you think you haven’t been paid correctly and attach copies of evidence such as rotas or previous emails.
- In the unlikely event that steps 1 and/or 2 don’t bring you resolution you can take your employer (the trust) to the employment tribunal. Acas is an organisation that provides independent support to help resolve employment disputes. They’ll see if your employer will agree to a process called ‘early conciliation’ – a way to resolve disputes without going to a tribunal. The quickest way to start is to fill in the early conciliation form on the Acas website. Or you can call the Acas early conciliation team on 0300 123 1122. The deadline for taking your employer to tribunal is 3 months less a day from when you should have been paid the money.* (You need to have already notified Acas, gone through the early conciliation process and got an early conciliation certificate.)
*If you have been paid incorrectly for a job that was more than three months ago, all is not lost! The law states that you have the right to claim via the county court for money that you are owed up to 6 years after the end of your contract, and we suggest you seek further legal advice if you are considering this.
Be aware that taking both the employment tribunal and the county court route will cost you some fees. However, these costs can be recovered if you are found to be in the right, and we know of several cases where junior doctors have taken this route and successfully recovered salary underpayments.