You will be aware that as part of the 2 year NJC pay settlement covering 2016 and 2017, it was agreed that two reviews would be conducted in relation to the NJC pay spine and on term-time working arrangements respectively.  I am detailing below an update in respect of both reviews.

Review of NJC Pay Spine

Negotiations have yet to commence, however, preliminary modelling is underway to inform pay agreements for the period 2018-2020.  The review of the national pay spine therefore remains in the technical stages with neither the trade unions nor the National Employers having adopted formal negotiating positions.  The intention is to devise a reformed pay spine that meets the following criteria:

  • Being legally compliant with the National Living Wage and that will be ‘future proofed’ to absorb yearly increases in the rate;
  • Has equal differentials between each spinal column pay point;
  • Does not cause equal pay or Single Status MK II problems for employers;
  • Requires the minimum amount of time and effort for employers to implement and assimilate staff onto a new spine;
  • Can be the basis for an agreement between the National Employers and trade unions;
  • Early signals suggest that the cost of meeting the National Living Wage in 2020 together with other criteria, cannot be achieved at a total cost of a 3% cumulative increase in the national pay bill over 2018, 2019 and 2020.  To do so the costs could well be in the region of 4.5%-6%.  Obviously this would depend on the current distribution of staff over the range of spinal pay points and the assimilation terms which have yet to be determined.

Almost a third of the points on the current pay spine will be gone by the end of the decade when the National Living Wage is set to reach around £9 per hour.  Discussions between the representatives of both parties are set to continue until the end of June 2017 before proposals are expected to be consulted on.  The period over which the new pay spine should be implemented will form part of the proposals, with trade unions pressing for this to be over the shortest possible period.

Review of Term-Time Working

The agreement to undertake a joint review of term-time working was based on seeking to ensure the delivery of a fair, consistent and transparent contract for school support staff.  Trade unions argue that school support staff should be treated in the same way as teachers and employed on full year contracts.  The current division is believed to penalise what is largely a low paid, predominantly female workforce.

A joint working group has been established which will collect data on the use of term-time contracts and the methods used to calculate the pay of term-time staff.  The joint working group consists of local authority officers and trade union members working alongside the Local Government Association and NJC trade union officials.

It is intended that the working group will produce advisory guidance for incorporation into Part 4 of the National Agreement - Green Book.  The guidance is likely to include an on-line calculator to assist employers and trade union representatives in understanding how remuneration, annual leave, sick and maternity/paternity leave might be calculated for term-time employees.

Given the complexities involved it is unlikely that the review on term-time working will conclude within the original time frame of 30 June 2017.

Obviously both reviews are ongoing and further developments will be posted.

Kieran Bannon

Deputy General Secretary