A terminally ill IBM worker who sued the tech giant for not raising his £54,000 salary for the 15 years he was on sick leave said ‘it’s not greedy to want a pay rise’, revealing fears for his family’s finances when he dies.
Ian Clifford, 50, was signed off work in 2008 on the grounds of his mental health and was later diagnosed with stage four leukaemia in 2012.
He had been guaranteed to received £54,000 until the age of 65 under the company’s health plan, but last year he sued the company for disability discrimination because IBM had not reviewed his pay since 2013.
An employment tribunal in Reading, Berkshire, dismissed his claim and a judge told Mr Clifford he had been given a ‘very substantial benefit’ and ‘favourable treatment’, pocketing more than £1.5 million from the company since he left his job.
Speaking out for the first time since the ruling, Mr Clifford said the chances of him living past 65 ‘is highly unlikely’ adding that he wanted to make sure his son was taken care of.
Ian Clifford, 50, was signed off work in 2008 on the grounds of his mental health and was later diagnosed with stage four leukaemia in 2012
Mr Clifford had been guaranteed to received £54,000 until the age of 65 under under IBM’s health plan
‘I am on chemotherapy and have been for many years and have been extremely unwell,’ he told The Telegraph.
‘Your salary affects your debt 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.’
Mr Clifford started to work for American software company, Lotus Development in 2000, shortly after it was purchased by IBM in June 1995 for around £3billion.
He went on sick leave in September 2008 until 2013 when he raised a grievance, protesting that he had not received a pay rise nor received holiday pay in that five-year period.
In April 2013, IBM offered a ‘compromise agreement’ which allowed Mr Clifford to be put on the company’s disability plan which prevents a person who is unable to work from being dismissed.
Under the plan, employees remain on the payroll and have ‘no obligation’ to work.
They have a ‘right’, until recovery, retirement or death, to be paid 75 per cent of their agreed earnings.
Mr Clifford’s agreed salary was £72,037 leaving him with £54,028 after the deduction.
The plan was fixed in place for more than 30 years until he reached the retirement age of 65.
IBM, lesser known as the International Business Machines Corporation, is an American multinational technology corporation based in New York with offices all over the world
He was also paid £8,685 to settle his holiday pay complaints in 2013 and agreed never to raise a further grievance about the same issues.
In February 2022, he took the tech giant to an employment tribunal with new disability claims which were similar to his previous claims.
In an attempt to sue IBM he said was treated ‘unfavourably’ with no salary increase since starting the disability plan.
He went on to complain that he was given no holiday entitlement and compared himself to a non-disabled employee who was given full pay on holiday leave.
Mr Clifford tried to argue that now inflation was running at over 10 per cent, the value of the payments would soon wither’.
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.’
Employment Judge Paul Housego dismissed his case.
Judge 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.
‘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.’
A LinkedIn profile for Mr Clifford states he is from the Guildford area and is ‘medically retired’.
Mr Clifford, who always considered himself a ‘company man’ said he had spent more than £30,000 in brining legal action against IBM, insisting it was necessary as a last resort.
He claimed the tech giant had made two separate offers to the ill worker before he took the case to court.
Mr Clifford has now launched an appeal against the court ruling.
IBM, lesser known as the International Business Machines Corporation, is an American multinational technology corporation based in New York with offices all over the world.
The tech giant, which is nicknamed ‘Big Blue’, is present in over 175 companies and works to utilise technology to assist business needs.
MailOnline has contacted IBM for a statement.