Settlement for Unpaid Holiday Pay to Police Officer and Police Staff now estimated at £40million

The Court of Appeal in Belfast has today dismissed an appeal against a previous tribunal decision on a class action brought by a group representing 3,700 police officers and civilian police staff of the Police Service of Northern Ireland.

In November, the Tribunal had decided that unlawful deductions from their holiday pay entitlements are in breach of fundamental European law rights.  The decision at that time was estimated to result in a total award of £30million.

The Chief Constable challenged this decision, which today reached the Court of Appeal in Belfast, where the challenge was dismissed, leaving the previous decision standing.

In a further cross-appeal by the claimants, an additional challenge was made on the correct calculation of the holiday pay, arguing that instead of 365 days a year, the calculation should be based on the actual number of working days. The Court of Appeal upheld this cross-appeal, meaning that the amount of the settlement is now likely to increase by a third, to £40million.

The case was brought by a group of 14 lead claimants representing two groups: police constables and sergeants (for whom the Chief Constable of the PSNI is answerable) and NIPSA Police Staff workers, such as forensic staff and crime scene surveyors (for whom the Police Authority for Northern Ireland is answerable).

John McShane, Solicitor, with McCartan Turkington Breen (MTB), representing the 9 of the 11 police officers and 2 civilian staff claimants, explained, “The issue in question was whether these groups should have their overtime and other allowances included in the calculation of their “normal” pay, in order to work out their holiday pay entitlements.  

“Up until now, holiday pay has been based on working basic contracted hours and has not taken into account the often extensive additional hours required by their work.   

“In 2014 a high-profile case in GB determined that pay whilst on annual leave should include an average of overtime and other allowances.  Cases were pursued here because the PSNI had not sought to comply with these legal obligations. The cases also addressed to what extent arrears of these unlawful deductions of wages, backdated to 1998 could be claimed.  In England and Wales, legislation was introduced to limit any arrears claim to 2 years.  No such equivalent legislation was passed by the NI Assembly.”

NIPSA Official Antoinette McMillen stated: 

“This is  a fantastic result for police staff.  Employers have failed to pay the correct wages to workers when on holiday since 1998. The cost is significant but the court of appeal has ruled that workers are entitled to reclaim that money owed to them.  If any worker worked  from 9 to 5 but were only paid 9 to 4 then they would undoubtedly expect to recoup the wages not paid for that hour.  NIPSA police staff members and NIPSA Solicitor John McShane of MTB  have won this appeal for all workers in Northern Ireland and they are to be commended for doing so. NIPSA will continue to take forward important ground breaking cases for its members where necessary. This case shows the importance of all workers joining a trade union, without being a member of a trade union, individuals would struggle to pay the costs to take forward case such as this" 

NIPSA has reacted angrily to news coming through from local Representatives that a number of Housing Executive offices have been earmarked for closure in the coming months.

 Paddy Mackel, NIPSA Official with responsibility for housing matters commented:-

 “This is astonishing news and will clearly cause significant concern to residents and the wider community.  As recently as April, NIPSA was advised that a review of accommodation was not considering closure.  However a presentation given to some local NIPSA Representatives has included information which indicated that local offices in the Southern Region and also in the North West are due to close.

 To date there has been no consultation with the union on the impact on our members, or the valuable service they provide to the public.  There appears to have been no public consultation, no political engagement, no equality impact assessment or rural impact assessment.

 What is even more shocking is the knowledge that with the introduction of Universal Credit and the end of mitigation payments in March 2020, if the Assembly hasn’t been re-established in the coming few months, residents and those in receipt of Housing Benefit payment will be even more vulnerable then they are currently.  This is likely to result in even greater reliance on local offices to access advice and assistance.

 On top of all of this, there is also the issue of many of these offices being Housing Executive properties which would become vacant.”

 Following a meeting of NIPSA’s Central Panel, it was agreed to raise these concerns with the Director and to engage with the wider community to build united opposition to this news.

 Paddy Mackel concluded by stating:-

“If ever there was a wrong time to contemplate reducing access to the community for housing advice and assistance, this is it.  NIPSA and its members, in collaboration with others, will do all we can to resist this agenda.”

 

Further to Bulletin PO-3-19 Pay Update for Members dated 3 May 2019 the purpose of this Bulletin is to update you on the pay discussions with the Department of Health and the Trusts and further to the NIPSA Health and Pay Sub Committee meeting on 6 June 2019 to discuss our strategy.

The pay discussions have formally started and the trade unions are now looking at a range of Pay Models.  NIPSA's objective remains to achieve:

  • The immediate uplift of Northern Ireland payscales for work of equal value across the National AFC payscales;
  • Parity with the region with the largest pay differentials with Northern Ireland i.e. Scotland;
  • A 2019-2020 in year cost of living wage rise above inflation, which begins to address the fact that for the last 8 years pay awards have been below the rate of inflation;
  • Acknowledge the fact that low pay lies at the heart of the recruitment and retention crisis and commit to restoration/pay parity to address the problem.

It is NIPSA's assessment that these discussions have started off on a positive footing and talks with the Department of Health continue to take place.  NIPSA remains committed to a negotiated settlement that will offer our members a fair and decent pay rise.

Members will have seen speculation and comments about an Industrial Ballot on this issue.  Whilst NIPSA is committed to these discussions and we will consider any final offer that is made and consult with our members as appropriate, if the offer is unacceptable then we will, in consultation with the other unions, need to consider all options up to and including an Industrial Action Ballot.

In the meantime we would ask all members to ensure their correspondence address held by NIPSA is up to date and correct as this is important, should we need to correspond with members in the near future.

Going forward I will ensure that you are kept informed as the issues develop.

Maria Morgan

Assistant Secretary

Colleagues

Please find listed below the full list of Regional Meetings to discuss the Industrial Action Ballot:

Monday 10 June 2019 at 4.30 pm - Clayton Hotel, Belfast

Tuesday 11 June 2019 at 4.30 pm - City Hotel, Derry

Tuesday 11 June 2019 at 4.30 pm - Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh

Wednesday 12 June 2019 at 4.30 pm - The Seagoe Hotel, Portadown

Thursday 13 June 2019 at 4.30 pm - The Lodge Hotel, Coleraine

Thursday 13 June 2019 at 4.30 pm - Castleview Suite, The Pavilion, Stormont

Please make every effort to attend these meetings.

Alison Millar

General Secretary

 

NIPSA met with Sue Gray, Permanent Secretary, DOF on Monday together with the Industrial Unions.  Jointly Trade Union Side made it clear that the current offer of 1.25% was totally unacceptable and fell well below our expectations.  As members are aware inflation (CPI) is 2% so for the ninth year in a row Civil Servants are receiving a pay cut in real terms. 

In a letter received this morning NIPSA have been advised that the offer will be imposed.  This is a cynical attempt to undermine the industrial action ballot which also launches today. 

I believe this will further demonstrate to members that the Management Side and the NICS Board do not believe their staff deserve a decent above inflation pay increase.  Civil Servants are continually expected to do more with less – this cannot continue. 

Therefore members should demonstrate loud and clear – Enough is Enough and vote ‘Yes’ for Strike Action and ‘Yes’ for Action Short of Strike Action. 

You should receive your ballot paper by 11/12 June.  Please return your ballot paper immediately. 

Alison Millar 
General Secretary

Further to NIPSA Bulletin B-9-19 issued on 16 May 2019 entitled External Deputy Principal and Staff Officer Competition I am writing to update members on the current position.

NIPSA is continuing to legally challenge the lack of meaningful consultation over the whole process regarding the above external competition.  The Judicial Review process is continuing and will be heard before the courts in due course. 

As previously indicated it is NICS Management’s view that the default position for all future recruitment competitions should be external so this is a major concern to NIPSA and to NIPSA members.  Career and promotion opportunities will be severely diminished in the future if Management Side and the NICS Board are allowed to get away with changing members’ terms and conditions without proper and meaningful consultation.  There has been no meaningful consultation on this process and therefore NIPSA believe that this is a fundamental issue and this is why we are continuing with the Judicial Review process.  At this point in time I cannot advise members on whether the current competition will be halted and hence that was the reason we advised from the outset that any member interested in applying should do so.

NIPSA were advised that there were approximately 4300 applications for the Staff Officer post and 3000 for the Deputy Principal post.  As members will be aware from the outset of these two competitions there have been many problems with IT failures, changes to process (I understand additional tests have been added into the process – again without consultation with NIPSA).  It is a disgrace given the amount of problems that have beset these competitions that Management Side supported by the NICS Board have continued with the current discredited process.

Members can be assured that NIPSA continue to challenge the process both through the registered disagreement and the courts. 

For these reasons it is important that when members receive their ballot papers next week they vote “Yes” for Strike Action and “Yes” for Action Short of Strike Action.  The ballot is two-fold – both pay and attacks on terms and conditions.

Alison Millar

General Secretary