Belfast Telegraph

Porter underpaid for antisocial hours wins employment tribunal

By Allan Preston

A healthcare worker has won a case against his employers for breaching minimum wage legislation.

Darren McGavigan, a receptionist and porter for Western Urgent Care (WUC) in Londonderry, launched the case after he was improperly paid for antisocial hours.

An industrial tribunal found there had been unlawful deductions from his wages and ordered that he be paid compensation, with his employer told to pay £5,000 costs.

A claim by WUC that enhanced payments for antisocial hours were discretionary was described as "beggaring belief".

When the national minimum wage was increased to £7.20 in April 2016, WUC failed to increase the basic and enhanced rates of Mr McGavigan's pay.

Instead, the tribunal was told, the employer calculated an average hourly rate and, because this figure was higher than £7.20, believed that it was meeting its obligations.

The organisation also claimed payments for antisocial hours were discretionary and not part of Mr McGavigan's contract.

Employers are required by law to provide employees with sufficient written information on the breakdown of their pay.

But the tribunal found that WUC had opted to "simplify the procedure" by changing the way employees' wage slips were itemised.

Mr McGavigan said the payslip calculations were incorrect and that the lack of detail was a breach of WUC's obligations.

Agreeing with his claim, the tribunal, held in Belfast, concluded that the payslips "masked" incorrect calculations.

It added that there was a "compelling inference" from the employers' methods of calculation, which they had "deliberately designed to short-change the claimant".

UNISON regional organiser Joe McCusker said the ruling would stop employers bypassing minimum wage legislation.

He also encouraged workers to check their payslips and terms of employment.

WUC general manager Deborah Ward welcomed the tribunal's ruling and said the organisation was committed to being a responsible employer.

"There have been a number of recent changes within the service, including a new management team, whose priority has been to fully review and implement both the judgement and associated recommendations of the tribunal," she added.

"We continue to review our employee relations policy and practice and liaise with our employee relations advisors to ensure we are compliant with all aspects of employment legislation."

Belfast Telegraph

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