The Locum Doctors Union (LDU) – now known as the Independent Health Professionals Association (IHPA) – and the Healthcare Professionals Union (HPU) are campaigning on behalf of locum doctors, nurses and allied healthcare workers to fund legal action against NHS trusts implementing the unlawful blanket application of the IR35 tax rules.
A crowdfunding page has been launched to fund legal action against individual NHS Trusts that are refusing to comply with NHS Improvement (NHSI) guidelines. These guidelines state that NHS trusts must lawfully assess locum medical professionals on a case-by-case basis to determine whether they are inside or outside IR35. The campaign aims to raise £45,000, with 17 days of fundraising remaining.
The money raised from the crowdfunding page will also be used to challenge, by judicial review, the proposed cost capping and the pan-London cap that are set to further slash locum doctor’s incomes if left unchecked.
Since April this year, public sector organisations, like the NHS, have been responsible for deciding the employment status of their contractors for tax purposes under IR35.
Locums deemed inside the IR35 tax rules had their incomes slashed by 30%-50% due to being taxed as fully employed, despite not being entitled to NHS staff rights such as maternity leave and sick pay. Locum medical staff are also required to personally cover required expenses such as long-distance travel and indemnity insurance, which can total thousands of pounds.
The NHSI issued guidance in September, which directed trusts across the UK to assess each locum worker’s contract on a case-by-case basis. This came after the LDU, along with the Healthcare Professionals Union (HPU) won a landmark victory in May that highlighted that a blanket application of the IR35 rule was unlawful because it failed to allow an assessment of each individual worker’s contract.
However, members of both unions have found that a number of NHS Trusts have subsequently been ignoring these guidelines.
Dr Benedict Itsuokor, president of the Locum Doctors Union, said:“The IR35 guidelines set out by the NHSI were designed to help locum healthcare workers and NHS providers work together to achieve an amicable and fair solution to the IR35 tax rule. Sadly, the situation on the ground has not improved due to certain NHS trusts simply ignoring this guidance. To make matters worse, the NHS is attempting to impose further caps or ‘Pan London’ rates to locum contracts. This has left us with no choice but to pursue further legal action against these trusts.
“There are real concerns, especially in London, that locum workers will be unable to contract in the NHS due to it being economically unviable, creating severe shortages as we head into winter. Because of this, there is the real and present danger that patient safety and care will be put at risk.”
Those interested in finding out more information on the legal action, new guidelines and joining the Locum Doctors’ Union can visit www.ihpa.org.uk.