UNISON backs action over cash-for-pensions deal

The decision by the NHS Pensions Board to refer Oxleas NHS Trust to the pension regulator has been welcomed by UNISON.

The Board has taken this formal action in response to the South East London Trust offering nurses who opt out of the NHS pension a higher salary.

UNISON’s Head of Health Christina McAnea said: “This deal, which applies to newly qualified and existing staff, is clearly a cost-saving measure.

“Encouraging staff to leave the NHS pension scheme should be a last resort, not a first step. If offering staff more money not to join a pension scheme isn’t an inducement, then it’s difficult to see what is.

“Many trusts are under huge financial pressures as a result of the squeeze on NHS funding, so have both staffing and vacancy difficulties.

“But saving on pension costs to subsidise higher rates of pay isn’t the way forward. Every worker deserves financial security in their retirement and staff shouldn’t be encouraged to put short-term gain ahead of their long-term security.”

Notes to editors:
– It is against the law for employers to ‘induce’ staff out of a pension scheme or encourage them not to join one.
– Oxleas NHS Trust has said the pension regulator had previously confirmed that the deal was lawful. It has denied it is to make any direct savings from the deal.
– The deal applies to band 5 nurses either opting out or not joining the NHS Pension Scheme. 

Media contacts:
Sophie Goodchild T: 0207 121 5546 M: 07767 325595 E: s.goodchild@unison.co.uk
Liz Chinchen T: 0207 121 5463 M: 07778 158175 E: l.chinchen@unison.co.uk
Fatima Ayad T: 0207 121 5255 M: 07508 080383 E: f.ayad@unison.co.uk