IBM employee who has been on leave for 15 years sues company for not raising his salary

An IBM employee attempted to sue the company on grounds of discrimination and not increasing his salary in the last 15 years. But there’s more to this story. The employee, named Ian Clifford, has not been to work since September 2008 as he has been on a sick leave. Working as a Senior IT worker in the company’s office in the UK, Clifford argued that his employer is ‘discriminating’ against him as he did not get a pay rise in the last 15 years.

IBM employee on sick leave since 2018

Even though Clifford is an IBM employee, he is under no obligation to work for the company since he was put on IBM’s disability plan in 2013, a Telegraph report reveals.

Talking of his salary, IBM’s health plan guarantees Clifford a salary of over 54,000 pounds (Rs 55,30,556) per year until he is 65 years old. However, he thinks this is not ‘generous enough’ because over time his salary will be worth less due to inflation.

Additionally, Clifford first went on sick leave in September 2008 and raised a grievance in 2013, which led to him being put onto IBM’s disability plan. This plan ensures that a person who is unable to work is not dismissed, but remains an employee and is paid 75 percent of agreed earnings until recovery, retirement, or death if earlier. Moreover, the employee is not under any obligation to work.

In Clifford’s case, his agreed salary was 72,037 pounds, meaning he would be paid 54,028 pounds per year after a 25 percent deduction.

Suing IBM for not raising salary

The Telegraph report also states that in February 2022, Clifford had taken IBM to an employment tribunal claiming that he was being discriminated against due to his disability. Apart from saying that he was treated ‘unfavourably’, the IBM employee said taht there was no salary increase or holiday entitlement for him in comparison to other employees who would be getting their full salary during holidays.

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, much to his disappointment, the employment tribunal dismissed all his claims and said that he had been given a ‘substantial benefit’ and a ‘favourable treatment’.

The Telegraph report quotes the Judge saying, “It is not disability discrimination that the plan is not even more generous. Even if the value of the ã50,000 a year halved over 30 years, it is still a very substantial benefit. However, this is not the issue for, fundamentally, the terms of something given as a benefit to the disabled, and not available to those not disabled, cannot be less favourable treatment related to disability.

“It is more favourable treatment, not less.”

IBM layoffs

Meanwhile, in January this year, IBM announced laying off thousands of employees after the company could not meet its cash targets. The company’s shares also dropped by 2% in extended trading, leading to the positive results from earlier gains being whittled away. As per a Reuters report, the cash flow of the company was USD 9.3 billion in 2022. However, the target was set at USD 10 billion because of higher working capital needs.

The company’s software and consulting business also slowed down in Q4 with cloud spending being the only silver lining. The hybrid cloud revenue of the company rose by 2 per cent in the quarter ended December 31. IBM also recorded revenue growth of 5.5 per cent, which is its highest in the last ten years.

Despite the layoffs, the company’s Chief Financial Officer, James Kavanaugh, said that the company was still “committed to hiring for client-facing research and development”.

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