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Hundreds of hospital cleaners could be forced to apply for “hardship loans” to cover their wages

Mitie, one of the largest cleaning companies in the UK, is proposing pay date changes with staff working longer in arrears and only receiving that money when they leave the company.

With workers at Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital in East Yorks., losing up to four days’ pay, Unison says Mitie has informed its representatives that staff can apply for “hardship loans.”

The company has reportedly suggested that workers can then pay back the money each month rather than the loans being reclaimed at the same time as the arrears are paid.

However, health union Unison, which represents 169 of the 600 employees working for Mitie in East Yorkshire, is calling on the firm handling the multi-million cleaning contract for Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust to rethink its plan.

Unison branch organiser Sheila Hepworth said workers would lose between one and four days’ pay and face the prospect of repaying a loan at the same time.

She said: “Saying they can apply for a ‘hardship loan’ to cover pay they’ve already earned is really humiliating for staff.

“They are absolutely furious.

“At the moment, staff are paid four-weekly, a week in arrears. What Mitie wants to do is move the pay date, which will mean four lost working days for staff working Monday to Friday and one day for those working weekends.

“Staff will only get those wages in arrears when they leave and these are people who live from pay packet to pay packet, with some using food banks.”

Earlier this year, Mitie workers voted for industrial action over a pay dispute with the company after they discovered they were not receiving a pay rise, backdated for last year.

After negotiations, staff are now given a basic salary and an ‘attendance bonus allowance’. However, they are not paid for holidays or sick days.

Union reps and staff have met Mitie management twice to express concern over the changes.

Mrs Hepworth said: “I have asked Mitie to look at a different way of doing it. I’ve asked them to still give it to staff as a loan but for that loan to be paid when they leave.

“This is when the company will pay back the money in arrears so it won’t cost them anything by allowing staff to pay back the loan at the same time.”

A spokeswoman for Mitie said as far as they knew everyone is now “comfortable” with the new arrangements.

The spokeswoman said: “We are going to be paying our people on the Hull contract a few days earlier each month going forward. We let them all know about this a couple of months ago.

“A few of our people wanted extra clarification of what was happening and we have gone through it with them.

“As you would expect, we have said that if anyone is inconvenienced by the change due to the way their personal finances are arranged, we would be happy to discuss their situation individually.

“As far as we know, everyone is now comfortable with the new arrangements.”

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