'I'm called greedy but it's a benefit of my job': IT worker wants pay rise after going on sick leave for 15 years

16 May 2023, 09:43 | Updated: 16 May 2023, 12:34

Mr Clifford wanted a pay rise from IBM after going on sick leave for 15 years with leukaemia
Mr Clifford wanted a pay rise from IBM after going on sick leave for 15 years with leukaemia. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

A seriously ill employee who has been paid hundreds of thousands of pounds over 15 years of sick leave insists he is not greedy for wanting a pay rise.

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Ian Clifford took IBM to a tribunal after it failed to hike his £54,000 salary.

He has been off work since 2008, having initially been signed off for mental health reasons and later being diagnosed with stage four leukaemia in 2012.

But the IT worker's claim against the tech giant - brought after he complained his pay had not been improved since 2013 - was thrown out in March, with a judge saying he had received a "very substantial benefit" and "favourable treatment".

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Speaking for the first time since he lost the case, Mr Clifford, 50, said he wanted to look after his son and is "highly unlikely" to live to 65, the age his salary is guaranteed until.

He also said he had a mortgage to pay and spent £30,000 on the case.

"I am on chemotherapy and have been for many years and have been extremely unwell," he said.

The IT worker has not worked for 15 years
The IT worker has not worked for 15 years. Picture: LinkedIn

"Your salary affects your death in service, pension and everything else, it was more for my family.

"People may think, yes it's generous, but firstly those amounts are gross not taxed... I do pay National Insurance on those amounts.

"I have a son [who is] off to university. Your mortgage doesn't go down because you are sick."

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He told The Telegraph: "People will still think it's greedy but at the end of the day, yes it's unfortunate, but that was a benefit I got with the job."

Mr Clifford, whose LinkedIn says he is from the Guildford area, said he had wanted a 2.5% pay rise, and asked if IBM had carried out a pay review.

He is appealing the ruling.

IBM's lawyers say there is "no obligation" for his company to increase the disability salary.

He began working for a software firm, Lotus Development, in 2000, after it was bought by IBM.

IBM's lawyers said it did not need to pay Mr Clifford more
IBM's lawyers said it did not need to pay Mr Clifford more. Picture: Alamy

The multinational put Mr Clifford on a disability plan that means employees have no obligation to return to work and can earn 75% of their salary until they either recover, retire or die.

He had also tried to complain IBM had not given him holiday entitlement.

Employment judge Paul Housego said: "The claim is that the absence of increase in salary is disability discrimination because it is less favourable treatment than afforded those not disabled.

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"This contention is not sustainable because only the disabled can benefit from the plan. It is not disability discrimination that the Plan is not even more generous.

"Even if the value of the £50,000 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."

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