IBM employee on sick leave for 15 years sues company for no pay rise

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


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A senior IT worker at IBM, Ian Clifford, who’s been on sick leave since 2008 took his employer to court for not receiving a salary hike, Telegraph reported. As per the report, Clifford is being sick for the past 15 years. He’s been ‘medically retired’ since 2013, according to his LinkedIn profile.
He blamed IBM 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 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. An employee on the plan has a ‘right’ until recovery, retirement, or death if earlier, to be paid 75 per cent 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 per cent 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”.

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First Published: May 14 2023 | 10:16 PM IST

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