PDAU welcomes advice from NHS Social Partnership Forum regarding industrial relations during the ongoing COVID-19 situation.

The NHS Social Partnership Forum COVID-19 advice covers a range of Industrial Relations issues and provides guidance on how they should be dealt with if they arise during the crisis.

Wed 13th May 2020 The PDA

The advice covers members directly employed in the NHS and the PDAU intends to ensure it also covers our members employed by Wholly Owned Subsidiaries of the NHS.

The Social Partnership Forum (SPF) is the joint employer/employee body that looks at all issues relating to employment in the NHS other than terms and conditions, which is the responsibility of the NHS Staff Council. Issues such as staff welfare, training, equalities and wellbeing are all issues covered by the National SPF.

The NHS Social Partnership Forum COVID-19 advice covers a range of Industrial Relations issues and provides guidance on how they should be dealt with if they arise during the crisis. Areas covered by the guidance include Industrial Disputes, collective issues affecting groups of employees under NHS Management of Change procedures, disciplinary issues and individual and collective grievance matters.

Paul Moloney, PDAU National Officer commented:

“The guidance issued is pragmatic and based on sound partnership principles, which guide our own approach to industrial relations. The PDAU therefore welcomes the guidance and will be working to ensure PDAU members employed in the NHS, or by Wholly Owned Subsidies of the NHS, benefit from the guidance”.

The full text of the guidance can be found here.

The PDAU believes of particular interest and relevance to members are the sections of the guidance covering the following:

  1. Industrial disputes. Any issues likely to cause disputes between NHS employers and their employees should be parked until after the crisis. The guidance calls for status quo clauses to apply meaning that any change to working practices that could lead to a dispute should be put on hold and the existing position remain in place until the end of the crisis, at which time discussions can recommence.
  2. Organisational Changes. Any changes to the structure of working arrangements including departmental restructures that could be detrimental for employees should also be put on hold. The only exemptions from this are changes required to deal with COVID-19 or those subject to a legal timetable. The PDAU believes the TUPE transfers from Boots to the NHS would potentially fall into this exemption.
  3. Discplinaries/Grievances. The guidance also calls for any disciplinary procedures taken against any individual to be put on hold. This also covers other employment procedures such as sickness review hearings. The exceptions to this are where the individual employee subject to disciplinary proceedings requests, they go ahead, or in very serious disciplinary cases where the safety of patients or staff is a factor. Grievances brought by staff as a result of health and safety concerns should also still go ahead.

The PDAU advises members employed by NHS Trusts, or by Wholly Owned NHS Subsidaries, to be aware of the contents of the SPF document and to contact us if they feel any of the guidance is being contradicted in their workplace.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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