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Worker on sick leave for 15 years sues company for not increasing pay of P3.7 million a year

By NICK GARCIA Published May 17, 2023 12:13 pm

A senior IT technician for tech giant IBM—who was on sick leave since 2008 yet earning over £54,000 (P3.7 million) a year—sued his company for not giving him a salary increase.

The Telegraph reported that Ian Clifford, 50, was signed off work in 2008 due to mental health concerns. He was diagnosed with stage four leukemia in 2012.

In 2013, Clifford, then 30, reached a "compromise agreement" with IBM and put him under the company's sickness-and-accident plan, which entitled him to receive 75% of his salary even as he has "no obligation to work" until he retires (at 65) or backs out of the plan, according to court documents.

In 30 years, Clifford is expected to receive over £1.5 million (P105 million).

But last February 2022, Clifford expressed dissatisfaction with the arrangement as there was no increase in his pay. He cited the inflation that's causing his income to "wither," and called the plan "not generous enough."

He also said there's "disability discrimination" because IBM didn't review his salary since joining the plan. He was seeking a pay increase of 2.5%.

"The point of the plan was to give security to employees not able to work," he said in his complaint. "That was not achieved if payments were forever frozen."

An employment tribunal, however, dismissed Clifford's case last March.

Judge Paul Housego in his ruling said Clifford is receiving a "very substantial benefit," as well as a “favorable treatment" compared to "those not disabled."

"It is not disability discrimination that the plan is not even more generous," Housego said.

Following the ruling, Clifford told The Telegraph that he took legal action not because he's "greedy" but because he wanted to provide financial security for his family and son who's about to go to college.

He noted that he's undergoing chemotherapy for years, and that he's still paying for death in service (insurance), pension, mortgage, and other family needs. He also spent over £30,000 (P2.1 million) on the case.

Clifford also said that his chances of reaching 65 are "unlikely."

He said that he had already appealed the ruling, according to The Telegraph.