UK ambulance workers win overtime claim for 'shift overruns'

An employment tribunal also ruled there was no obligation for workers to perform purely voluntary overtime.

UK ambulance workers’ compulsory overtime for “shift overruns” should be included when calculating their holiday pay, an employment tribunal has ruled.

But the tribunal also found that the findings only apply to non-guaranteed overtime for shift overruns when workers are, for example, in the middle of answering an emergency call and are unable to leave work. They do not apply to purely voluntary overtime.

In Flowers and others v East of England Ambulance Trust, workers claimed that their paid annual leave should have included:

- Overtime required when a shift overruns (that is, if their shift ends in the middle of an emergency call);
– Voluntary overtime that staff can choose to do when it is offered (that is, additional shifts planned in advance).

The tribunal acknowledged that claimants were not in a position to leave at the end of their shift if they were in the middle of an emergency call and, therefore, overtime pay for shift overruns must be included in their holiday pay. As a result, it upheld the claims brought in relation to unauthorised deductions from the wages of workers who, in the three months prior to any period of annual leave, were required to do this kind of overtime.

The tribunal also accepted there was no obligation for workers to perform purely voluntary overtime. While staff may be asked by the Trust whether or not they are available to undertake voluntary overtime, they are under no obligation to accept it. It was left to both parties to agree the remedy.