Letter to Sodexo on pay and working conditions for Sodexo employees at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

Today, Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust chief executive Professor Tim Orchard has written to the chief executive of Sodexo Healthcare UK requesting formal confirmation of Sodexo's position in relation to their staff's concerns on working conditions and actions that have been taken to resolve them. The letter also confirms the Trust's position on ensuring Sodexo staff working in the Trust's hospitals are paid at least the London Living Wage. On the third day of industrial action by Sodexo staff at St Mary’s Hospital, we continue to work hard to minimise the impact of noise and disruption caused by pickets on our patients, visitors and staff. Read the letter here: 

Re: Pay and working conditions for Sodexo employees at Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust

I write in relation to the current industrial action by Sodexo employees at St Mary’s Hospital.

As you are aware, we have already initiated a discussion with your team to explore the options for bringing forward our commitment to ensure all staff employed through our facilities management contract are paid at least the London Living Wage from 1 April 2020. I am keen to pursue this in partnership with you and with our trade union partners on an open and transparent basis.

Whilst pay has been the primary issue, I am aware that a number of other concerns have been raised by your staff and their trade unions about working conditions. All of the staff who work in our hospitals, including all Sodexo employees, are part of one team and should be treated as such, but you have the primary responsibility as their employer to ensure their welfare and to respond to their concerns. As such, I am keen to receive your personal assurance that your employees’ concerns have now been resolved. Our understanding of the situation, developed through discussions with your Divisional Director, is set out below. I would appreciate your confirmation that this is an accurate picture of your position and the actions that have been taken.

Our understanding of how you have resolved staff concerns is as follows:

  • Christmas travel – a commitment to make arrangements for staff to have free travel to work at our hospital sites on Christmas Day.
  • Vaccinations – proactive measures to ensure all employees have been fully vaccinated. (The Trust has committed to providing Sodexo staff with free flu vaccinations as part of our own programme and we have shared details with your management team about how, where, and when your staff can receive their vaccinations).
  • Uniforms – clarity on staff entitlement to sufficient uniforms and arrangements for replacement when required.
  • Extended holidays – clarity on the details of your annual leave policy and the process for ensuring all staff are aware of the policy.
  • Rest and changing facilities – action taken to communicate arrangements for staff working at our sites. (We have previously confirmed that Sodexo employees are entitled to use our staff room facilities and café areas and we are exploring options for improved dedicated facilities.) 

I am sure your team has made you aware that the pickets in support of the current industrial action are having a detrimental impact on our patients, staff and visitors. While the pickets have been largely good natured, they have been very noisy and disruptive and, at times, intimidating. I have been disappointed with Sodexo’s level of engagement with your staff at our site and with the union leading the action which has created an even bigger impact on our organisation.

On a specific issue, it has been widely shared on social media that Sodexo dismissed three employees on their second day of industrial action. We have been told that this is not the case and that they were being transferred from casual to substantive contracts but I would be grateful for formal confirmation and assurance that changes such as these will be managed more carefully in future.

Finally, I would be grateful if you could set out how you are intending to ensure the welfare of all of your staff following the industrial action to ensure there is no conflict between those who took action and those who continued to work.

Yours sincerely

Professor Tim Orchard
Chief Executive Officer