Our Ref BR6/5/5
Circular No IR/214/15
9th September 2015
TO ALL BRANCHES, REGIONAL COUNCILS AND REGIONAL OFFICES
Stood Off Arrangements – Network Rail
I write to advise branches that the following resolution was submitted to the 2015 Annual General meeting by the National Conference of Engineering Grades concerning Stood Off Arrangements: -
“Conference calls on the General Grades Committee to request that the General Secretary commits our union to the Stood Off Agreement and do not accept Network Rail’s latest attempts to withdraw the Agreement as part of their pay proposals, and any further moves by Network Rail to do so this union will seek a legal position to establish through the courts to finally bind this important term and condition where it remains in place.
Conference further calls on the General Secretary to raise with Network Rail at the earliest opportunity that members who may come under the stood off arrangements and at the meetings held with HR and management, should not be referred to as being UBA staff members (caused by redundancy following reorganisation). They are put in this position through an ill-health situation, and probably would come under the Equality Act, where they need proper rehabilitation policies put in place and this resolution seeks better support for individuals through better occupational health services for our members in helping them to remain in the industry.
We request our union raise within the membership the merits of this resolution and issue guidelines to our representatives in dealing with such cases.”
The General Grades Committee has now considered the matter and the following decision was taken:
“That we note the resolution from our National Conference of Engineering Grades carried at this year’s Annual General Meeting. It should be noted that whilst at the time the resolution was submitted Network Rail indicated that they wished to alter our members’ terms and conditions, by removing the current “Stood off Arrangements”, as part of the 2015 Pay award. However, due to stance taken by members of this union this has been withdrawn and the current “stood off arrangements” remain in place.
In respect of the legal position we instruct the General Secretary to seek a legal opinion on the prospects of taking a case against Network Rail. However should any member feel that they are being forced out of the industry they should complete an L2 form with a view to making a claim to an employment tribunal for possible discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and /or unfair dismissal.
Further the General Secretary is also instructed to raise the issue with Network Rail to ensure that all members are treated fairly and in accordance with the Equality acts. This should be achieved through better Occupational Health Services and proper rehabilitation programs.
Finally the General Secretary is also instructed to circulate the contents of the resolution in order to raise awareness amongst our representatives and also give consideration to including it as part of our education syllabus for Local Representatives”
To clarify the position for members, the Stood Off arrangements have been part of the terms and conditions of Network Rail staff since British Rail. After privatisation this agreement, which can be found in the 1985 Conditions of Service, has continued to apply. There is absolutely no doubt that this agreement is still in effect as we received written confirmation from the HR Director in 2013.
The agreement is as follows: -
“Every possible endeavour will be made to accommodate staff certified as fit for restricted duties by the Railway Medical Officer in suitable alternative work. However, those staff who have ten or more years service, and for whom no suitable alternative work can be found, will be regarded as remaining in the employ of the British Railways Board (i.e. they will not be regarded as being absent from duty ‘sick’ or ‘stood off’) and will continue to be paid at the basic rate of pay of their substantive grade for a maximum period of two years …
… The employee’s situation will be kept under constant review and any suitable employment which arises will be offered.”
In other words, all those with over 10 years’ service could remain in Network Rail employment for two years under those arrangements, if that is their choice, and only after those two years have expired would the ill-health severance arrangements apply.
It is, of course, the personal choice of every individual who is unfortunate enough to suffer from a particular illness or condition what course of action to follow, but it is important for members to understand and consider all the options open to them. That is, as the information above states, if a member is deemed unfit to carry out their duties, then they should have the option of benefitting from the stood off policy for the maximum two years prior to receiving their ill health severance package. On the other hand, if they do wish to agree to ill health severance before the two years has expired, then that is also their choice.
As outlined in the above decision, should any member feel that they have or are being forced out of the industry without reference to this agreement, they should be advised to complete an L2 form with a view to making a claim to an employment tribunal for possible discrimination under the Equality Act 2010 and/or unfair dismissal.
In accordance with the General Grades Committee decision, I will be writing to Network Rail highlighting the continued entitlement of our Network Rail members to the Stood Off Arrangements. Further I will repeat our demand all members should be treated fairly in accordance with the Equality acts, and that this should be achieved through better Occupational Health Services and proper rehabilitation programs for staff who unfortunately suffer ill health.
I would be grateful if Branches would advise their Network Rail members of the contents of this circular.
Our Ref BR6/5/5