UNISON stewards have been challenging Oxford Health Trusts current approach to staff who are permantly exempt from PMVA due to some kind of physical impairment. The Trust is currently employing a draconian policy that gives staff just 3 months to find another job or face termination of their contract. This means that all staff working on one of the mental health wards could at some point find themselves being discarded if they become disabled and unable to complete PMVA training - even if this is as a result of being injured at work.
With the expectation that staff will have to work to 67 and beyond it is vital staff win some kind of protection of employment to avoid being thrown out of work when they are older with no prospect of employment in the same field. People with decades of service deserve better than this. It is a disgrace that a Trust that cares for people with disabilities has such a poor attitude to supporting staff who become disabled.
The Trust is arguing that it needs to have everyone on wards able to do PMVA, though staff know that every day non-PMVA trained staff are being employed on wards to cover staff shortages. Incredibly the Trust is denying it employs anyone not PMVA trained on the wards! This means that established staff with disabilities are being treated less favourably than casuals, with higher standards of performance expected - even if they are paid less - thois appears to be blatant discimination on the grounds of disability. Nor does the Trust appear to be able to acknowledge the hazards posed to patients by discarding long standing experienced staff who maintain continuity of care in favour of here-today-gone-tomorrow casual workers.
UNISON reps have asked the trust to change the current policy to guarantee staff some kind of employment, including giving retraining in recognition of loyal service. However the Trust has so far refused to agree even the smallest concession to ensure that no staff member is thrown out of work.
UNISON is now talking with the Trust Equalities Officer about the discriminatory way the scheme impacts on staff with impairments, arguing that this is a form of disability and age discrimination. We are arguing the trust could do more in terms of reasonable adjustments, either to accomdate some staff on the wards or create a system of redeployment that guarantees a job.
We are due to meet with the Trust Equalities Officer on Monday 16th May from 12.30 pm until 3 pm at Unipart and would like members who are concerned about this the Trust's approach to staff who become permantly unable to complete the PMVA training to come with us to explain the issue. Please mail back if you would like to join us.