Press release: Union legal challenge to Exeter City Council over Covid pay

Read Time 2 mins | Monday 12 October, 14:49

The Union Workers’ Union (UWU), has filed employment tribunal proceedings against Exeter City Council (ECC) following a dispute over furlough pay for some of its lowest-paid part-time workers.

ECC furloughed numerous staff in March 2020 as a result of the pandemic. ECC advised workers they would be paid until the end of the scheme or until they can return to work. The furlough scheme doesn’t officially end until 31st October 2020 but despite this, some part-time low paid employees were advised in June that furlough arrangements would unexpectedly cease at the end of the month.

UWU Vice President Kay Nicholls said:

“We are only taking action on behalf of one of our members but we understand dozens of low paid, part-time council staff have been placed in this difficult financial position during the ongoing crisis.

Attempts to reach an informal resolution between the union and the council have failed. Senior officers for the council have repeatedly refused to hear the staff member’s complaint which has caused the current deadlock.

UWU Vice President Kay Nicholls said:

“We are particularly disappointed with the council’s refusal to follow its own internal complaints policy. Regrettably, this has left the union with no option other than raising a legal challenge.”

Since the UWU intervention, the council has revised its position from completely withdrawing furlough pay in June to offering furlough pay at 80% for July, August and September. However, this falls short of the original furlough agreement and is different from the arrangements the UWU believes remain in place for other council staff.

UWU Vice President Kay Nicholls said:

“It is grossly unfair to seek to balance the council’s books at the expense of a handful of their poorest paid staff. The law protects part-time workers from being treated differently and from breaches of contract. Through our legal challenge, the UWU intends to ensure ECC abides by the law.

We are calling for public scrutiny on how the furlough scheme has been administered in Exeter. Our union expects better from employers and continuing to resist honouring agreements with staff is not a good use of public money. We hope the council sees sense soon and rectifies this situation.”


Notes to editor:

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