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The English and Welsh consultant contracts contain some significant differences in their terms and conditions of service, and for locum consultants who work on either side of the border it is quite easy to lose track of which terms apply where.
As a result, these consultants are occasionally unaware of the full terms and conditions that are available to them in either country.
However, it is important to note that there are elements that occur in both contracts, which may be remunerated in different ways.
One example is that of intensity bandings supplements. These are payments made in addition to basic salary that reward consultants for being available to work on call and therefore recognise the inconvenience that being part of an on-call rota can cause.
In England, the supplements are paid as a percentage of basic salary, depending on the frequency of the rota and whether the consultant can respond on the telephone or is typically required to attend on site.
In Wales, the banding supplement is paid as a set sum, the size of which is dependent on the intensity of the rota. There are three bands available and the decision is determined on the basis of an ‘intensity banding questionnaire’.
It was because of this sort of confusion about the applicable contract terms that one locum consultant, having worked in both England and Wales, was unaware that he was eligible for an intensity banding supplement for his on-call commitment.
It was only once the doctor had completed his locum contract that he was made aware of the banding by a chance remark from a former colleague who had worked the same on-call rota.
The doctor then wrote to the trust to request that he be paid the banding retrospectively for the year he was employed. When he did not receive a response, he contacted the BMA for assistance.
The BMA employment adviser made a full referral of the matter to the association’s external solicitors, in order that a protective claim for unlawful deductions of wages could be submitted to tribunal.
This ensured that should informal approaches to the trust for the outstanding money prove unsuccessful, the doctor would still have the option of legal action.
Our external solicitors agreed that the doctor did have a good case and consequently they prepared the claim to be submitted to the Employment Tribunals Service using the standard form, known as an ET1.
The trust finally paid more than £7,000 in arrears, but only after the catalyst of the ET1 form being submitted to the tribunal, and only after the matter had reached the case management stage.
If you are a consultant thinking of moving from England to Wales, or vice versa, please contact the BMA for information about the differences and similarities in the contract.
You can read and download the full consultant heads of terms in the My Working Life Document Store
As the NHS's in the four nations continue to diverge we will see more of these sort of issues.
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