21st February 2023
Royal Mail Group Dispute – Stoppage of Sick Pay – Acas Early Conciliation/Employment Tribunal Claims
Further to LTB 477/22 dated 1st December 2022, from the numerous reports received emanating from all parts of the UK, RMG appears to have issued central instructions to stop sick pay during periods of industrial action.
This first became evident during the strike action in December 2022. Therefore, this issue was raised by Carl Maden, National Officer with Jason Wilson, Policy Development & Integration Manager, who denied the stoppage of sick pay was part of a national directive.
Despite the denial from management, it has become clear the sheer scale of this attack must have been driven centrally. Accordingly, we have previously advised Branches all members who have had sick pay stopped, should be encouraged to use the online claim form to submit Acas early conciliation claims and then register an Employment Tribunal, details are in LTB 500/22.
Due to RMG’s ongoing refusal to engage in the nationally agreed processes, there are now in excess of 600 individual claims relating directly to the unfair stoppage of sick pay. These fall into the following categories:
Individuals who have had sick pay stopped because they did not attend an absence interview on a strike day and at a location on strike.
Sick pay has been stopped on strike days.
Sick pay has been stopped for the whole period of sick leave if an isolated day coincides with a strike day.
Other general stoppages of sick pay.
Some members who have received detrimental treatment due to the cessation of sick pay have suffered additional stress and anxiety whereby mortgage and rent payments have been missed and/or banking charges incurred with direct debits etc. not paid on time due to lack of funds.
We have also received reports from Branches that some members have received correspondence to suggest the decision to withhold company sick pay may be revisited if evidence is provided to demonstrate the illness. This position ignores the fact there is a legal right to self-certify for the first seven days of absence, so it is obvious this is another move designed to place further pressure on the members concerned.
On a positive note, we have been made aware Royal Mail Group, via their legal representatives Weightmans, may wish to conciliate some cases at Acas rather than going to a full Employment Tribunal (ET) hearing. This clearly signals RMG now consider they have potentially erred in this matter, as seeking to avoid an ET hearing by settling, indicates they are vulnerable to a legal challenge.
Branches and Representatives will no doubt support the principle the best way to resolve all of the cases (in excess of 600) is ideally through a national agreement incorporating generic solutions whilst taking into account the different circumstances listed above.
In an attempt to open up meaningful dialogue to resolve the whole issue of the stoppage of sick pay, we have written to Zareena Brown, Chief People Officer proposing a collective agreement to address the detriment unfairly incurred by our members.
In the meantime, it is vitally important all members who have had their sick pay stopped are encouraged to submit Acas early conciliation claims and Employment Tribunal applications.
Branches and Representatives will be kept fully updated on developments.
Andy Furey Acting Deputy General Secretary (Postal)
Carl Maden Assistant Secretary