Following meetings with the Finance Minister on 9 December 2020, 22 March 2021 and 13 April 2021 the Management Side have tabled the following two-year pay offer for all non-industrial civil servants.
2020 Pay Offer
As part of the overall two-year pay offer, the 2020 pay offer for the reporting year 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2020 which would apply from 1 August 2020 is set out below:
- all eligible satisfactory performers to receive a one step progression, subject to band maximum, with effect from 1 August 2020;
- all points on all civil service scales, excluding non-civil service retained pay scales, from minimum to maximum to be revalorised by 1%;
- any staff receiving less than a 1% consolidated increase to receive an additional non-consolidated, non-pensionable payment to bring them up to the equivalent value of 1% of their salary (for those in civil service grades who are in receipt of a salary in excess of the maximum, the 1% would be based on the scale maximum. For those on non-civil service pay scales the 1% would be limited to 1% of the equivalent civil service General Service scale maximum);
- AA and analogous pay scale to be extended to two pay points through the introduction of a new scale minimum point below the pre-existing revalorised scale point;
- All other civil service pay-scales (AO and analogous to SCS inclusive, excepting non-civil service pay scales) will be shortened by the removal of the minimum pay point;
- A 3% non-consolidated, non-pensionable payment to staff eligible for the pay award at AA and analogous;
- A 1% non-consolidated, non-pensionable payment to staff eligible for the pay award at all other grades; and
- A 1% increase to apply to all fixed rate pay leads as well as percentage based pay leads with effect from 1 August 2020.
2021 Pay Offer
In addition, the offer has been extended to cover the 2021/22 pay year. For the reporting year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021 the following offer would apply from 1 August 2021. All elements of entitlement in this award detailed at (a) to (e) are in respect of a one-year period with effect from 1 August 2021.
The offer for the period from 1 August 2021 is as follows:
- All eligible satisfactory performers to receive one step progression, subject to band maximum, with effect from 1 August 2021;
- All points on all civil service scales, excluding non-civil-service retained pay scales, from minimum to maximum to be revalorised by 1%;
- Any staff receiving less than a 1% consolidated increase to receive an additional non-consolidated, non-pensionable payment to bring them up to the equivalent value of 1% of their salary (for those in civil service grades who are in receipt of a salary in excess of the maximum, the 1% would be based on the scale maximum. For those on non-civil service pay scales the 1% would be limited to 1% of the equivalent civil service General Service scale maximum);
- A 3% non-consolidated, non-pensionable payment to staff eligible for the pay award at AA and analogous; and
- A 1% increase to apply to all fixed rate pay leads as well as percentage based pay leads with effect from 1 August 2021.
Other pay-related issues
The following are also included as part of this offer:
- A commitment to the civil service to become a Living Wage Foundation employer;
- Standardising working hours for pay purposes for non-industrial staff at 37 hours net per week in the calculation of hourly basic rates of pay and overtime, in line with all other time-related policies and amending the Hours and Attendance policy to make it clear that regular full time staff work standard net hours of 37 per week (except where otherwise agreed) excluding meal breaks;
- An increase of 5% to standard On-Call and Standby allowances (i.e. the allowances set out in the current version of the HR Handbook Chapter 8.18).
- An increase in statutory paternity leave following the birth or adoption of a child, from 2 days’ pay leave to two weeks at full pay after the relevant qualifying period;
- Enable Grade 6 and analogous staff to avail of overtime arrangements as standard (i.e. not only for Covid-related working) in Overtime Band 2 in line with staff at Staff Officer to Grade 7.
Terms of the offer
Members may be aware that the Executive recently agreed, without consultation with unions representing public sector workers, a 2021 Public Sector Pay Policy which stated that it “Allows for up to 1% awards – where this is very clearly affordable; and where there is a commitment to reform and efficiency initiatives; or it is justified by a by a pressing business critical labour market case.”
The Management Side have indicated that the above offer is conditional on Trade Union Side’s commitment to the following key areas of reform in the civil service:
- Accommodation: Trade Union Side agreement to accelerate discussions on the registered disagreement on desk sharing and the home-working policy through appropriate Whitley mechanisms with a view to reaching agreement by the end of spring 2021; and
- Mileage Allowance: Trade Union Side agreement to accelerate discussions on the registered disagreement on mileage through the appropriate Whitley mechanisms; and
- CMS overtime harmonisation with standard civil service terms: that Trade Union Side should agree that the overtime arrangements in the Child Maintenance Service would be changed to reflect those set out in HR Handbook Chapter 8.08 on overtime, including that set out at paragraphs 11 and 20 of that chapter.
Members will be extremely disappointed and angry with this offer which goes no way to deliver on the NIPSA pay claim, lodged over 8 months ago for an above inflation pay increase and pay restoration following 11 years of austerity. Nor does it recognise the commitment, dedication or hard work of thousands of civil servants over the last year of unprecedented times and working arrangements. During those times Ministers from all parties have congratulated civil servants for all the work they have delivered during the past 13 months, but that has not translated into putting a fair and decent pay offer to civil servants. Instead we have returned to the years of a 1% pay increase. This is a retrograde step.
NIPSA has engaged directly with the Finance Minister over several months and several meetings to seek a significant pay offer. Unfortunately, despite this engagement the Minister has not responded positively to the proposals made. NIPSA asked on a number of occasions why a better offer had been put to the NI Teaching Council regarding Teachers Pay. For members’ information Teachers were offered and accepted a 2% pay offer for 2020/21. To date no answer has been provided other than to say the offer to the NICS is what can be afforded.
The Minister has been made aware in a detailed letter dated 1 April what the implications of the offer would mean in comparison to NI Teachers who are covered by the same Public Sector Pay Remit. In that letter the following information and examples were provided:-
A 1% offer for 2020/21 plus a non-consolidated payment falls far short of TUS’s expectations. For our UKCS counterparts many were offered up to a 2.5% consolidated pay increase with no conditions attached to the offer.
For comparison purposes a UK civil servant working in DWP would have received a 2.5% pay increase from 1 July 2020. A civil servant earning £25k per annum would have received a salary increase of £25,625, thereby receiving a consolidated increase of £625.
NIPSA also queried why NI civil servants were being offered a 1% increase (+1% non-consolidated) whenever teachers in NI received a 2% consolidated increase. Using the same example, a teacher earning £25k per annum would receive an annual salary increase of £25,500, thereby receiving a consolidated increase of £500. In comparison a NI civil servant earning the same £25k would receive a consolidated increase of £250 bringing their salary to £25,250 (plus a one-off non pensionable payment of £250). Therefore, as a civil servant your pay would lag behind significantly over a NI Teacher or a UK Civil Servant by between £250 - £275. For a Grade 7 civil servant the difference would be between £500 - £750.
The facts are that if we compare the NI Teacher and the NI civil servant using the same comparator figures, as used earlier then the NI Teacher would be on £25,500 having applied a 2% increase for 2020/21 and adding a 1% to that figure would mean the NI Teacher would be on a salary for 2021/22 of £25,725, which will result in the NI Teacher in 2021/22 receiving an additional pay increase over the same period of £252. While NIPSA believe that NI Teachers deserve the pay increase they have been offered and accepted, what we cannot accept is that NI civil servants are any less important or valuable to the delivery of public services than teachers.
In NIPSA’s detailed letter to the Minister it was also pointed out other potentially detrimental unintended consequences. One such issue is that approximately 900 civil servants retire each year. A non-consolidated, non-pensionable payment is not reflected in the lump sum payment nor ongoing annual pension which negatively impacts on a civil service pensioner for the remainder of their life.
Furthermore, it was pointed out that many civil servants are in receipt of tax-credits and universal credit. For those civil servants the impact of a non-consolidated payment paid in one month will negatively impact on them and their benefits in the month in which it is paid. This effectively means a person in that position will lose the equivalent of the non-consolidated payment or an element of it.
NIPSA strongly urged the Minister to make an offer which was consolidated in all elements and ensure that civil servants were treated no less favourably than other public sector workers. The Minister indicated when TUS met with him on 13 April 2021 that this was the best offer that could be made.
NIPSA’s Civil Service Group Executive Committee met yesterday and gave detailed consideration to the 2 year pay offer which the Management Side have stated is their best and final offer.
The Executive Committee are recommending rejection of this derisory offer which falls far short of our claim of an above inflation pay increase and pay restoration. However, in recommending rejection the Executive Committee wishes to also seek the views of members on the potential for engaging in industrial action. It is the Executive Committee’s view that a sustained and potentially prolonged period of industrial action would be necessary to deliver a fair pay rise for civil servants.
The Executive Committee in making this point wish to be honest with members in their assessment of what it would take to bring the Management Side and the Minister back to the negotiating table. These are issues which can be discussed at branch meetings over the next 3 weeks.
Branches should now move to organise all member meetings to ascertain members’ views on the offer and feed them back to the Executive Committee.
Please make every effort to attend your branch meeting and make your voice heard. This is an important consultation with members on the issue of pay. Given the Covid 19 restrictions branch meetings will be held remotely which should give members a better opportunity to attend their branch meeting.
Thereafter the Civil Service Executive Committee will meet on 17 May 2021 to consider the outcome of the consultation. A further bulletin will be issued following this meeting.