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IBM Employee On Sick Leave For 15 Years Sues Company For No Pay Rise

IBM Employee On Sick Leave For 15 Years Sues Company For No Pay Rise

A senior IT worker who's been on sick leave since 2008 took his employer to court for discrimination because he didn't receive a salary hike, Telegraph reported. As per the report, Ian Clifford is employed by tech giant IBM but he's been sick for the past 15 years. According to his LinkedIn profile, he's been 'medically retired' since 2013. Mr Clifford first wenton sick leave in September 2008

However, he claimed that he was a victim of 'disability discrimination' because his salary had not been increased in the 15 years he was off work. Under an IBM health plan, the IT specialist receives more than 54,000 pounds (Rs 55,30,556) a year and is guaranteed to receive the salary until he is 65. 

But, the employee argued that the health plan was ''not generous enough'' because his salary will wither over time due to inflation. 

Notably, Mr Clifford first went on sick leave in September 2008 and things remained as such until 2013 when he raised a grievance. Heeding his complaint, IBM offered him a 'compromise agreement' where he was put onto the company's disability plan so he wouldn't be dismissed. Under the plan, a person who is unable to work is not dismissed but remains an employee and has ''no obligation to work''.

An employee on the plan has a 'right' until recovery, retirement, or death if earlier, to be paid 75% of agreed earnings. In his case, his agreed salary was 72,037 pounds, meaning from 2013 he would be paid 54,028 pounds per year after 25% was deducted.  The plan was fixed in place for more than 30 years until he reached retirement age at 65.

In February 2022, he took IBM to an employment tribunal on claims of disability discrimination. He said, "The point of the plan was to give security to employees not able to work - that was not achieved if payments were forever frozen."

However, things didn't go according to his plan, as an employment tribunal dismissed his claims, with a judge telling him he has been given a "very substantial benefit" and "favourable treatment".

Judge Housego said, “That active employee 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 an 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 £50,000 a year halved over 30 years, it is still a very substantial benefit.''

''It is more favourable treatment, not less,'' he concluded. 

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