Social worker wins back continuous service rights after council’s mistake.

Social workers who have worked for the handful of new care trusts
across England could be losing out on holiday, sickness, pension
and maternity benefits because some local authorities are unclear
of the rules on continuous service rights.

Senior social worker Sinead Dervin had to fight her new employer,
Wandsworth Council, for four months to ensure she didn’t lose seven
years of continuous service rights accumulated from her previous
employment with Camden and Islington Mental Health and Social Care

As Dervin had been employed directly by the trust – an NHS body –
and not by a local authority, Wandsworth assumed that the
employment benefits she had accumulated there were not
transferable. Consequently, the council wanted to reduce her annual
leave by four days and her sickness and maternity pay from six
months to two.

But Dervin discovered a change in the rules which made social care
trusts a relevant organisation for continuity of service rights.
Wandsworth quickly apologised and reinstated Dervin’s original
contract terms.

“Neither Wandsworth or Camden personnel knew anything about the
employment law,” said Dervin. “If I hadn’t looked into it and had
accepted what they said, no one would have been any the wiser. I
wonder how many other social workers this has happened to?”

Joan Seaton, head of employment relations at the Employers’
Organisation, thought Dervin’s case was likely to be a one-off, but
Community Care has uncovered a similar case at a council in the
North West, indicating a wider level of ignorance about rules
governing continuity of service rights.

“We don’t know how big the problem is, but one person is too many –
it shouldn’t happen,” Seaton said. “We’ve given the issue extensive
coverage, but we’re prepared to do another campaign.”

Wandsworth Council admitted that there had been “some confusion”
when Dervin joined the council because she came from a care trust
rather than a conventional hospital trust, but said the necessary
checks about her eligibility for certain benefits had been
completed quickly and she was now receiving everything she was
entitled to.

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