This issue broke yesterday evening, Patricia Quinn and I attended a briefing very late this afternoon at BSO. I was the only Joint Secretary in attendance but we were instrumental in getting them to do this briefing for TUS/staff to at least contextualise what has happened.

I would be grateful if you can circulate this as a matter of urgency to NIPSA members across the service. I contacted the media  and we may get some further coverage tomorrow morning but my reading and summary of events is as follows:

  • Some 6,000 staff affected;
  • We had no prior knowledge that  as part of the annual pension band review for 2018/19 that a 4 month review from April – July was being undertaking by BSO in full consultation with Trusts that would ultimately lead to assessments and adjustments in the August salaries;
  • This subsequently led to the over and underpayments for the people affected and the resultant difficulties experienced by staff;
  • You can see the sums involved and the mitigation proposals to offset financial hardship, where required;
  • It is interesting that BSO assert that there is no computer or payment error....their line is they are simply required to assess staffs’ superannuable earnings on an going basis to ensure that staff pay their proper pension band contribution rate;
  • They will do this on a quarterly basis for 2018/19 and onwards;
  • They believe this is a fairer and better approach than doing it annually , where the financial impact would greater;
  • The need for them to raise the 9.8% pension contribution rate threshold is a legal requirement and was again highlighted;
  • There is no correlation in this exercise to the fact that there is no pay award yet for 2018/19 for HSC staff, indeed discussions are only commencing;
  • A key issue here is the lack of any communication strategy, this was not flagged up regionally and I will be raising this as a matter of urgency with the DOH;
  • Equally, you must be forcefully asking your Trusts as Employers of their failure to engage knowing this was happening and the painful impact it has on staff through salary adjustments without prior warning.
Trade Unions August 2018 HSC pay issue – Pension contribution assessments:

Firstly, we would like to apologise for any distress caused to employees in relation to the processing of the Pension Band Review 2018/2019.

The August 2018 changes to HSC staff pay have come as a result of a mandatory exercise to assess any permanent changes in an individual’s pay against the following employee pension contribution tiers for 2018/19:

Pensionable Pay from (£)
Pensionable Pay from (£)
Employee Contribution Tier %
15,431.99 5.0%
15,432.00 21,477.99 5.6%
21,478.00 26,823.99 7.1%
26,824.00 47,845.99 9.3%
47.846.00 70,630.99 12.5%
70,631.00 111,376.99 13.5%
111,377.00 and above 14.5%

We undertake pension reviews to assess if employees are contributing sufficiently to the pension scheme based on their superannuable earnings. On completion of each assessment we will adjust the employees pension contribution tier accordingly which has the impact of refunding or collecting additional pension contributions (in arrears where applicable). This will also have an impact on employees’ future take home pay as contributions will continue at the new rate.

Across the HSC region there have been just over 6,000 staff affected by the recent assessment of which approximately 90% of employees moving to higher pension contribution tier. Several hundred staff received a refund.

Of the 6,000 impacted less than 500 staff have seen an impact greater £200 with the average impact of £120. No member of staff has been left without pay in August 18 as a consequence of the pension tier assessment exercise.

We appreciate that the impact is greatest for weekly and fortnightly staff, especially those on lower pay, and we have agreed to support any effected staff member that requests a reimbursement and re-payment plan. This will be automatically agreed at 3 months with employees having the option to request a longer period if their personal circumstances support this.

Going forward we will increasingly focus on liaising closely with staff and employers to ensure that communications are timely and effective to mitigate against similar issues arising.

Trust you find this helpful 

Kevin McCabe

Assistant Secretary