Ambulance workers could lose up to a quarter of their pay if they’re off sick, following contract changes.
The NHS imposed changes to rules surrounding ambulance workers’ sick pay on September 1, after giving just two days’ notice to trade unions.
The money saving move means staff are heavily penalised if they are absent through illness.
About 20,000 ambulance workers across England are affected.
The move has angered unions and could lead to industrial action.
A source from Yorkshire Ambulance Service (YAS) told The Examiner many ambulance workers were furious about the move, which had come “without warning” and with no offer of consultation.
The source explained: “Unlike in hospitals where staff get paid per unsocial hour they work, YAS staff simply get 25% unsocial pay on top of wages regardless of how many unsocial hours they work, so in many cases get lower paid than if they got paid for each unsocial hour.
“Some rely on this money to pay their mortgages.
“But now should you break your leg, injure yourself at work, or are off sick due to stress, you will lose a lot of your monthly pay, which will only cause more stress and hardship.”
Unison, the largest trade union for ambulance staff, has called for a negotiation and has threatened industrial action.
Christina McAnea, Unison head of health, said: “Ambulance staff do a difficult, stressful, often dangerous job and face a daily risk of injury, illness and violence at work.
“It is wrong for the employers to forge ahead with these proposals.
“We hear day after day about the pressure that paramedics and ambulance workers face, coupled with the rising number of 999 calls year on year.
“Ambulance workers do not take industrial action lightly, they know that lives depend on their care and expertise.
“But feelings are running high and it is high time that the employers recognised that the ambulance service is too vital to play games with.
“We are calling on the employers to continue negotiations and find a way to resolve this.”
A spokeswoman for YAS said the change was a national NHS decision and they could not comment.
The Examiner reported in July that workers from Yorkshire Ambulance Service took an average of 14.4 days off with illness in 2012/13 – more than double that of other NHS workers.