“It felt like I’d won the lottery,” said Emma a member of staff at a privately-run prison on hearing that she was going to receive three years of back pay.
“It shows what you can achieve if you’ve got a union behind you that won’t give up.”
Problems started for Emma way back in 2012 when there was a change in the pay structure. She ended up being put in the wrong pay band and was paid less than she was entitled to.
Just like anybody who sees there’s money missing on their pay slip, Emma went to see her local HR department, hoping it was an easy mistake to correct.
“I thought that HR would be able to sort it out amicably. But I was passed from pillar to post without any explanation. They kept telling me I was getting the right money.”
At one point she was even told that she was being paid too much and she’d be better off keeping quiet.
Emma turned to the union for help. One of Community’s organisers helped to compile a folder of evidence and the union’s Service Centre provided advice on the case. One option was to seek a resolution through ACAS but this would have capped the amount of back pay Emma could claim at two years.
With support from Community, as a last ditch attempt without going through ACAS she decided to raise a formal grievance about the whole situation.
With a Community official by her side, Emma made and won her case. She received all the back pay with interest – over £5,300 in total.
“It was such a stressful process to go through and I know I would have given up without the support from the union,” says Emma, who has worked at the prison for over 10 years.
The money will make a massive difference to Emma and her family. “It’s the deposit for our bungalow,” she says.
Emma is disabled and has adapted her home to help her with her disability. Emma has been wanting to buy her current home but didn’t have the deposit, she tells us she is elated with the outcome and now has the deposit to buy her home.
(Name has been changed on the request of our member)