Man who's been off sick at work for 15 years sues employer for not giving him a pay rise

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By Phoebe Egoroff

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A man who has been on sick leave from work for almost 20 years has now sued his employer for not giving him a pay rise in that time.

Ian Clifford - a senior IT consultant employed by IBM since 2000 - has been on sick leave since September 2008 after being diagnosed with stage four leukemia, The Telegraph detailed. However, in 2013, he raised a grievance with his workplace, during which he argued that he had not received a pay rise during this time, and also had a complaint about his holiday pay for the five-year period.

Then, in 2022, he took IBM to an employment tribunal to argue that the guaranteed salary he is set to receive for the next 30 years is "not generous enough" and will "wither" over time due to inflation.

Mr Clifford claimed he was the victim of disability discrimination by IBM because his salary had not been increased in the 15 years he was off work.

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Ian Clifford has been on sick leave since 2008. Credit: LinkedIn.com

In April 2013, when Mr Clifford was in his mid-30s, a compromise agreement was reached between him and IBM, where his complaints were settled by putting him on the company's disability plan. This means that an employee who is unable to work will not be dismissed but instead remains an employee and has no obligation to work, per Insider. Mr Clifford would receive 75% of his salary under this agreement.

At the time, Mr Clifford's salary was around $90,000, which was roughly $67,500 annually after 25% was deducted. The agreement also held that the plan was fixed for 30 years until he reached retirement age - 65. At that point, he would have received over $1.8 million.

Following his complaints in 2013, Mr Clifford also received almost $11,000 to settle his holiday claim. He agreed to not raise any more grievances about the same issues.

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Mr Clifford disputed his salary with IBM. Credit: Robert K. Chin - Storefronts / Alamy

Nine years later, in 2022, he took IBM to an employment tribunal with more disability discrimination claims, saying that he had been treated "unfavourably" with no salary increase since 2013 or holiday entitlement, and compared himself to a non-disabled employee who would have been paid their full salary during holidays, Insider explained.

He argued that with inflation at over 10%, the "value of the payments would soon wither," per Metro. "The point of the plan was to give security to employees not able to work – that was not achieved if payments were forever frozen," he said.

The judge presiding over the case, Judge Paul Housego, dismissed it, saying: "That active employees may get pay rises, but inactive employees do not, is a difference, but is not, in my judgment, a detriment caused by something arising from disability. The complaint is in fact that the benefit of being an inactive employee on the Plan is not generous enough, because the payments have been at a fixed level since April 6, 2013, now 10 years, and may remain so.

"The claim is that the absence of increase in salary is disability discrimination because it is less favourable treatment than afforded those not disabled. This contention is not sustainable because only the disabled can benefit from the plan. It is not disability discrimination that the Plan is not even more generous. Even if the value of the [$67,000] a year halved over 30 years, it is still a very substantial benefit," the judge added in his judgment.

Featured image credit: Igor Stevanovic / Alamy

Man who's been off sick at work for 15 years sues employer for not giving him a pay rise

vt-author-image

By Phoebe Egoroff

Article saved!Article saved!

A man who has been on sick leave from work for almost 20 years has now sued his employer for not giving him a pay rise in that time.

Ian Clifford - a senior IT consultant employed by IBM since 2000 - has been on sick leave since September 2008 after being diagnosed with stage four leukemia, The Telegraph detailed. However, in 2013, he raised a grievance with his workplace, during which he argued that he had not received a pay rise during this time, and also had a complaint about his holiday pay for the five-year period.

Then, in 2022, he took IBM to an employment tribunal to argue that the guaranteed salary he is set to receive for the next 30 years is "not generous enough" and will "wither" over time due to inflation.

Mr Clifford claimed he was the victim of disability discrimination by IBM because his salary had not been increased in the 15 years he was off work.

wp-image-1263211918 size-full
Ian Clifford has been on sick leave since 2008. Credit: LinkedIn.com

In April 2013, when Mr Clifford was in his mid-30s, a compromise agreement was reached between him and IBM, where his complaints were settled by putting him on the company's disability plan. This means that an employee who is unable to work will not be dismissed but instead remains an employee and has no obligation to work, per Insider. Mr Clifford would receive 75% of his salary under this agreement.

At the time, Mr Clifford's salary was around $90,000, which was roughly $67,500 annually after 25% was deducted. The agreement also held that the plan was fixed for 30 years until he reached retirement age - 65. At that point, he would have received over $1.8 million.

Following his complaints in 2013, Mr Clifford also received almost $11,000 to settle his holiday claim. He agreed to not raise any more grievances about the same issues.

wp-image-1263211924 size-full
Mr Clifford disputed his salary with IBM. Credit: Robert K. Chin - Storefronts / Alamy

Nine years later, in 2022, he took IBM to an employment tribunal with more disability discrimination claims, saying that he had been treated "unfavourably" with no salary increase since 2013 or holiday entitlement, and compared himself to a non-disabled employee who would have been paid their full salary during holidays, Insider explained.

He argued that with inflation at over 10%, the "value of the payments would soon wither," per Metro. "The point of the plan was to give security to employees not able to work – that was not achieved if payments were forever frozen," he said.

The judge presiding over the case, Judge Paul Housego, dismissed it, saying: "That active employees may get pay rises, but inactive employees do not, is a difference, but is not, in my judgment, a detriment caused by something arising from disability. The complaint is in fact that the benefit of being an inactive employee on the Plan is not generous enough, because the payments have been at a fixed level since April 6, 2013, now 10 years, and may remain so.

"The claim is that the absence of increase in salary is disability discrimination because it is less favourable treatment than afforded those not disabled. This contention is not sustainable because only the disabled can benefit from the plan. It is not disability discrimination that the Plan is not even more generous. Even if the value of the [$67,000] a year halved over 30 years, it is still a very substantial benefit," the judge added in his judgment.

Featured image credit: Igor Stevanovic / Alamy