Bus drivers win shift payment dispute

A GROUP of drivers have won an employment tribunal case against Sheffield’s biggest bus company in a dispute over shift payments.

Thirty-one staff based at First’s Olive Grove depot claimed they had been unfairly denied £30 per week ‘spreadover’ payments on the week between Christmas and New Year in 2009.

The company did not make the payments – compensation for working a split shift with a three to four hour break – because it operated a Saturday service that week so drivers worked all their hours at once.

The tribunal heard the drivers – backed by trade union Unite – had received the payments every year up to 2007, despite not working split shifts that week to avoid any loss of earnings. After First initially refused in 2008, the payments were again made.

The tribunal ruled it was “custom and practice to pay this spreadover payment” because it was clear that the payment had been made consistently for up to 20 years, and possible longer, until it was first refused in 2008.

First did not make the payments last Christmas but is reviewing the situation in the light of the tribunal’s decision.