UNISON ADVICE SUPPLEMENTARY TO THE TMBC NJC PAY AWARD 2019-2020 INFORMATION BOOKLET
To: All UNISON members who fall under Local Authority Terms & Conditions (NJC Pay: Green Book)
Re: NJC Pay Award 2019-2020 for Council Employees (subject to Cabinet Decision on 26 March 2019)
Branch Advice: 7 March 2019
Background To The Current Pay Spine Review, with an important update as of 7 March 2019. See below
In September 2018 the branch corresponded with the Authority requesting that the two year review, following the change to T&C`s in 2016, was undertaken. At that point in time the Branch had received a response from the employer advising that the review could not take place until after the matter of NJC pay assimilation has been resolved. The response did not come as a surprise to the Branch given the potential implications.
In essence, the employer, on the basis of any cost implications arising from the implementation of a new pay line, said that it was not able to consider the requested review until the new pay line was agreed and implemented because the NJC pay award for 2018/2 and the NJC Pay Line/Assimilation and the subsequent review of T&C`s are inextricably linked.
To recap, the pay offer for 2018/20 had to take into account the fact that both sides of the National Joint Council were going to jointly review the NJC pay spine. The implementation of the National Living Wage (NLW) meant that this work was critical if job evaluated pay structures, which deliver equal pay for work of equal value, were to be maintained. If they were not, the trade union side believed that local government and schools could face a second round of equal pay costs.
As a reminder the key features of the NJC April 2018 – March 2020 pay offer were:
- A 16% pay increase for those currently on the lowest scale point (SCP) 6, over two years.
- A pay increase of between 15% and 4.3% for those on the current SCPs 7 – 28.
- 4.04% increase over two years, for those above the current SCP 29, including those above SCP 49.
- A new pay spine from 2019, with new scale points 1-43 and even 2% pay gaps between SCPs 6-28.
The need for a new pay spine was due to what was occurring in that pay differentials within NJC pay structures were being squashed as pay points at the bottom or were deleted or pay settlements were bottom-loaded to keep pay rates at the bottom at, or marginally above, the legal minimum of the NLW. In effect, increments throughout the structure were uneven and occupational segregation remained rife. Women, who are 78% of the workforce, still largely occupy the lower pay rates.
The pay spine review was an attempt to address these inequalities and provide more transparency and equality in pay progression. The new agreed national pay spine meant that existing pay grade composition needed to be reviewed. Clearly these changes present challenges to any employer and consideration had to be given to how SCP fit into local grade structures, impact on any new SCP`s, length of grades, cost implications and impact on school budgets etc.
In respect of the above (Pay Line) the Authority was seeking to work with the recognised trade unions prior to proposing any new pay line. In relation to any input, UNISON`s position was that we support the simplest ‘straight-line-fit’ migration possible from the current pay spine to the new pay line in accordance with the following general principles:
- There should be no detriment to existing employees – this is a principle of the National Agreement – either as a direct result of moving across to the new pay spine, or as a consequence of changes proposed to be made to or within the local grading structure.
- This is not a Job Evaluation exercise and local assimilation should seek to maintain the integrity of the existing local Job Evaluation Scheme as far as possible as it relates to the pay line and the local grading structure. This includes the current JE points bandings, the number of grades in regard to the current JE points bandings and not increasing the number of incremental steps within grades required to reach grade maximum SCP (unless it is proposed to create genuine additional headroom compared to current equivalent grade maximum SCP).
- UNISON accepts that in many local cases the ‘pairing off’ at the lower end of the pay spine of existing SCPs 6 to 17 to produce new SCPs 1 to 6 will necessarily reduce grade lengths (even down to single points) and/or consideration of one point overlaps where these may not currently exist.
- UNISON does not agree with utilising the new and additional SCPs (10, 13, 16, 18 and 21) where proposals to do so would (i) lower a grade entry SCP compared to the current equivalent grade entry SCP, or (ii) would lower a grade maximum SCP compared to the current equivalent grade maximum SCP, or (iii) would increase the number of incremental steps within a grade required to reach the grade maximum SCP, where the proposed grade maximum SCP is the same as the current equivalent grade maximum SCP
The main concern for UNISON comes if an employer insists on using the new SCPs to lengthen grade steps without increasing real term headroom. If this were the case then UNISON has advised that we would need to consider our position.
UPDATE AS OF 7 MARCH 2019
Prior to the proposal that has just been released following the meeting of the full council on the 6 March 2019, UNISON put forward a counter proposal and has since worked closely with TMBC on how best to avoid any detriment to employees who under any agreed “un-amended” proposal wouldn’t progress to the equivalent grade maximum at the same rate of progression as under the former scheme.
Whilst UNISON supports the principle outlined above in Option C, given that it clearly provides added earnings potential for a large number of employees, the problem that UNISON had identified and highlighted as a concern was that a number of employees on specified SCP’s (SCPs 20, 21, 24, 25 and 26) would potentially be at a perceived detriment due to the introduction of the new SCP’s in the national pay spine. I.e. The addition of new SCP`s, with no equivalent “Old SCP,” increases the incremental step, which means that it would take some employees longer, a year or more, to reach the equivalent grade maximum (examples can be seen on page 15 of the Tameside MBC NJC PAY AWARD 2019-2020 Information Booklet).
UNISON`s proposal was tabled in order to protect affected employees from detriment and to ensure that incremental progression would be afforded and would mean, if acceptable to the employer, that they would “leapfrog” the new proposed SCP to ensure that they reach the equivalent grade maximum in the same time as it would in the existing structure.
Whilst this position was not set out in the national agreement or the guidance/FAQ’s for employers, the Authority was keen to consider this option and agreed to work closely with UNISON and give our proposal due consideration given that it would add significant cost to the wage bill over the coming years.
Taking into account the additional cost and the potential workforce implications of not adjusting the proposals to offset the potential perceived detriment for the identified group of employees, the Authority accepted UNISON`s proposal. (Note: at the time of writing this is still subject to any Cabinet Decision made on 26 March 2019)
The Branch can advise members that the revisions and clarifications that it has received from the Local Authority make the proposal acceptable to UNISON on an “agreed in principle” basis for consulting our members.
Given that the proposal has been scrutinized by UNISON at regional level we feel that the consultation only requires that we give members the opportunity to comment rather than to formally ballot. To this end the Authority will be running drop in sessions (dates to be confirmed) over the next couple of weeks where UNISON will be available for questions/feedback. Alternatively, you can send comments to the Branch at the email address below.
UNISON strongly endorses the proposal and recommends that members accept the offer as set out in communications you will/have receive(d) in the Tameside MBC NJC PAY AWARD 2019-2020 Information Booklet.