Monthly Archives: September 2015

Transport to the March Against Austerity, Sunday 4 October

Sunday 4 October will see UNISON members join thousands of trade unionists and supporters marching through Manchester to condemn the government’s damaging programme of austerity and attacks on the rights of working people and their unions, as the Tory conference opens.

To date details of the following coaches to Manchester from across London and the South East have been received:-

Barnet trades council coach leaving Finchley Central tube at 06.45, picking up at Hendon Central tube at 07.00 and Mill Hill Broadway station at 07.15. £15/free or donation. Contact Barnet Unison 020 8359 2088 and leave your contact details

Brent trades council (with Brent Fightback) leaving Brent Trades Hall at 07.00 £20/£10 07951 084 101

Ealing trades council coach contact or 07931 198 501

Haringey trades council coach, more details

Islington Hands Off Our Public Services leaving the Town Hall at 07.00. £10/£5 07950 280 908

NUT Redbridge coach more details

SOAS – details to be confirmed

Tower Hamlets
– Leaving 6.45 from Mile End.  Contact TH UNISON on 0207 364 5302 or email

Waltham Forest
trades council coach leaving Walthamstow Central at 06.00 £20/£10 07905 765 705

RMT London Region coach leaving British Museum at 07.45 £10/free unwaged. Contact 07914 002 851

Kings Lynn trades council coach, possibly also picking up at Peterborough, more details

St Albans, Welwyn & Hatfield trades council coach, from St Albans at 08.00, calling at Hatfield and/or Welwyn Garden. Free/donations. More details 07721 040 631

Unite coach leaving John Lewis Coach Park, Milton Keynes at 08.00. Free/donation

Unite and Luton trades council coach from Luton. Free. Contact 01582 726 122

Unite is also considering a coach from Colchester, Ipswich, Stowmarket, Bury St Edmunds, and one from Cambridge and Peterborough. Expressions of interest to 01473 250 321

Unison Bedfordshire Health Branch coach from L&D Hospital (time tbc), then Bedford Hospital. Contact

Portsmouth coaches from The Hard (06.00) £20/£5 contact Mark 07816 835 621. Also from the Student Union, Fratton Trades Club, Cosham Old Post Office – also contact Mark

Norfolk People’s Assembly coach contact

Unison South East coaches from Abingdon, Banbury, Brighton, Didcot, Oxford, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, Witney. details here

Southend on Sea UNISON Branch – £10 return Leaves Shoebury (bus stop near ASDA) 6am, picking up along A13 to Tarpots. Organised by ‘Southend Against The Cuts’ with trade union sponsorship Book online:

Beds Hospital together with Luton & Dunstable Hospital Branch – Pick up outside the L&D hospital [time tbc], then drive to pick up Bedford people outside Bedford Hospital [time tbc] before heading off to Manchester to be there in good time before the 11:30/midday start [exact times tbc] The coach has also been opened up to Bedford Trades Council & Luton Trades Council. Tel Ian Thomas 01234 355122 bleep 344

Herts County Branch – 17 seater coach running from Stevenage. Tel David Devereux, Branch Secretary 01992 556260


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Changes to Tax Credits Thresholds and Tapers

The government’s Summer Budget announced changes to the tax credit threshold (above which tax credits are reduced) and an increase in the taper (the rate they are reduced by) from April 2016.

HMRC says “For people entitled to WTC the threshold is £6,420 a year. People with annual income at or below this threshold will receive the maximum award to which they are entitled.

Those with income above the threshold will have their maximum award reduced by 41p for every pound of income above the threshold.”

This is how the threshold and taper system works today.

The threshold is being reduced from £6,420 to £3,850 and the taper increased from 41p to 48p.

In work Child and working tax credit entitlement graph

UNISON has calculated the impact of these changes on different types of household using the NJC pay scale and the spreadsheet can be downloaded here

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Sleep-ins and the National Minimum Wage

Last year a key legal judgement established that sleep-ins carried out by workers should be included in calculations for the National Minimum Wage (NMW).   This means that members, and potential members, who do ‘sleep-ins’ and are low paid may be entitled to a pay rise and potentially back pay.

The Whittlestone EAT judgement has established that sleep-ins are covered by the National Minimum Wage (NMW) regulations. So even if a worker is allowed to sleep at work, if they are required to stay at their workplace, then all their hours are covered by NMW regulations.

This means if any worker is paid – on average – less than the NMW over their pay reference period, they will be entitled to a pay rise to ensure NMW compliance. They may also be able to pursue a claim for back pay. However, because working patterns vary enormously between individuals; this will need to be considered on a case-by-case basis.

UNISON is aware that the introduction of the NMW Regulations 2015 led some employers to think that this meant that they now did not have to pay for sleep-ins (reversing the Whittlestone EAT judgment), however this is not the case

The new NMW Regulations 2015 are consolidating regulations and therefore the legal position from the Whittlestone EAT judgement remains unchanged and “sleep-ins” continue to be covered by the NMW.

Each case will need to be looked at on an individual basis, however the starting point is to look at the nature of the work being undertaken by the member. Does the worker have an obligation to be physically present at their workplace? For example, what would happen if they left – would the worker be disciplined?.   If they would be disciplined or they are otherwise prevented from leaving then case law suggests that the time spent at work, whether awake or asleep, is subject to NMW compliance. This is because being present is work in itself.

It may be that the worker is able to sleep (as Ms. Whittlestone was able to) for most of the night but the relevant issue is that the worker could not simply be absent for one night or part of a night and that their physical presence is required.

The sections which appear to be causing concern for employers (reg. 27 (2) and reg. 32(2)) only come into play where it can be shown that the worker is available for work (but not actually working) and qualify the situations in which payment must be made (i.e. when the worker is woken and carries out duties).

These would be circumstances where the individual was genuinely “on-call”. For example if a worker was required to sleep on the premises, but could come and go as they pleased (they are under no obligation to be physically present), this would be categorised as “on-call”. Our experience suggests that this would be an unlikely scenario in the care sector. It is more likely to be relevant in the service industry where people may live above a pub for example.

UNISON’s position is that someone who is required to be present (awake or asleep), and who is not permitted to leave the premises during their shift or sleep in is working rather than available for work so the qualifications in reg. 27(2) and reg. 32(2) do not apply.

The law is a useful tool in pushing employers to change current arrangements, and potentially for back pay claims. We will support individual members’ legal cases where they are assessed as having reasonable chances of success.


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