Ministers are being urged to clarify pay arrangements for nurses in England who are working on the day of the Queen’s funeral.
This follows confusion over whether the bank holiday, announced for the 19 September in honour of Her Majesty’s funeral, counts as a public holiday that would entitle NHS workers in England to overtime pay.
“Nursing staff will be there to provide core services as they always do on a public holiday”
Overtime pay has already been agreed for those working in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Nurses and other healthcare workers employed under the Agenda for Change (AfC) contract are entitled to enhanced pay if they work on one of the eight regular UK bank holiday days.
However, it is unclear if they are entitled to enhanced pay when working on one-off public holidays, such as the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee bank holiday earlier this year, or the upcoming bank holiday for the Queen’s funeral.
This previously led to confusion over nurses’ pay over the Jubilee bank holiday, as arrangements were left to local NHS Trusts to decide, resulting in different arrangements in different parts of the UK.
The Royal College of Nursing’s associate director for employment relations, Brian Morton, called on the government to provide clarity.
“Ministers need to provide clarity on this as soon as possible,” he said.
“For the Queen’s Jubilee, they failed to provide leadership, leading to uncertainty for staff and confusion for the public.
“Nursing staff will be there to provide core services as they always do on a public holiday.”
Mr Morton added that on a bank holiday of “this significant” nursing staff “should be paid or have time off in accordance with NHS public holiday terms and conditions”.
“We must not see another situation where this is left to NHS trusts and other NHS organisations locally to navigate,” he warned.
He urged the UK Government to “confirm that Monday 19 will be treated as a ‘public holiday’ in accordance with NHS terms and conditions”.
The Scottish Government has confirmed that Monday 19 September will be considered an official public holiday and that NHS staff required to work that day will be “eligible for the rates of pay and all other terms and conditions applicable on a designated Public Holiday”.
A spokesperson from the Welsh Government confirmed that the same will be true in Wales.
A Department of Health spokesperson for Northern Ireland clarified that staff required to work or to be on-call on Monday 19 September will be entitled to equivalent time to be taken off in lieu at plain time rates, in addition to the appropriate payment for the duties undertaken. For staff within AfC Bands 4 to 9 this will be normal time, plus 60%.
But nurses in England have yet to receive any indication of whether they will receive overtime pay for working on the day of the Queen’s funeral.
A DHSC spokesperson said that provisions for additional bank holidays are determined by local Trusts and that NHS Employers would be putting out guidance on pay shortly.
The news comes after NHS England warned colleagues to be aware that there may be an increase in patients self-presenting across the health and social care sector following the death of Queen Elizabeth II.
Since news of Her Majesty’s death last Thursday, tributes have poured in from across the profession.
Queen Elizabeth II has been remembered for the way she “tirelessly championed nurses and nursing issues”, having been a patron for several nursing and health and care organisations.