The following update has been received from Sandy Adirondack, voluntary sector legal expert – www.sandy-a.co.uk
NJC pay rates
National Joint Council for Local Government Services (NJC) pay rates are nationally negotiated between trade unions (GMB, Unison and Unite) and the National Employers for Local Government Services, who negotiate pay on behalf of 350 local authorities in England, Wales and Northern Ireland. NJC rates are intended for use in local government, but some voluntary sector employers link their employees’ salaries to NJC rates. At the time of writing (27 March 2018), rates intended to start on 1 April 2018 have not yet been agreed. (The rates for 2016-17 and 2017-18 were not agreed until 16 May 2016, and in some previous years it was much later.)
On 5 December 2017, following proposals from the unions, the National Employers issued their final pay offer for 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2020. For 2018-19, the proposals are for increases of from 9.2% down to 3.7% for staff on spinal column points (SCPs) 6-19, and 2% for SCPs 20-49, i.e. 2% for those on current salaries from £19,430 to the top of the NJC scale. The proposed increases for 2019-20 are 7.3% down to 2.3% for SCPs 6-28, and 2% for SCPs 29-49. Staff on the lowest SCPs get the highest percentage increases; those on SCP6, currently on £7.78 per hour, will have their hourly rate go up to £8.50 in 2018-19 and £9 in 2019-20.
SCPs 1-5 are not in use. For SCPs over 49 some local authorities produce their own scale points, but these are not official NJC rates.
The employers have also proposed a new pay spine to start in April 2019, rationalising the current spinal points. The 2019-20 SCPs given in the paragraphs above are the current SCPs, not the proposed new ones.
After the employers’ announcement in December, Unison’s NJC committee voted by 12-11 to recommend to its members that they reject the offer, but added that “the offer is the best that could be achieved by negotiation and nothing short of substantial, all-out strike action could make the employers consider improving their final offer”; GMB advised its members that the offer is the best that could be achieved by negotiation; and Unite’s national industrial sector committee for local authorities unanimously recommended to its members that they reject the offer. Their main argument is that the flat 2% increase for most workers is below inflation.
Each union consulted its members until early March, with the intention of making a joint announcement in mid-March. In Unison’s consultation, its members narrowly rejected the offer, but a significant majority of branches and regions voted to accept it. Its NJC committee “agreed reluctantly” to amend its recommendation to acceptance of the pay offer, and to consult branches, via regions, on whether they agree with accepting the offer. The union’s NJC committee will meet on 6 April to discuss branches’ feedback. I have not been able to find any information about the results of the GMB’s and Unite’s consulations, but clearly nothing can happen until after the Unison branch consultation. Information about this is at https://www.unison.org.uk/news/article/2018/03/njc-pay-update-branch-views-required-5-april/.
The National Employers’ offer on 5 December, and a pay negotiations update issued on 25 January 2018, can be accessed via the East Midlands Councils website at http://www.emcouncils.gov.uk/Pay-and-rewards/Local-Government-Services.
The initial offer includes detailed explanations and a chart showing, for every SCP, annual and hourly pay for 2018-19 and 2019-20. The negotiations update warns employers that from 1 April 2018, national living wage [see my update 1811 on 26 March] will be £7.83, but the SCP6 hourly rate is currently £7.78. It is now clear the new NJC rates will not be agreed by 1 April, so any employer whose wages are linked to NJC and has workers aged 25 or over on SCP6 should ensure they are paid the national living wage from 1 April.
The Northern Ireland Council for Voluntary Action (NICVA) provides information for the UK voluntary sector on NJC pay rates, but is not party to the negotiations.
From 6 April 2019 itemised pay statements (colloquially called payslips) for employees whose pay varies according to time worked will have to show the number of hours being paid, either as a total number of hours or as separate figures for different types of work or different rates of pay.
Where necessary the format of payslips should be adjusted by April 2019 to show the additional hourly pay information, and employers whose payroll software (or paper systems) do not collect the information must ensure their systems are changed in good time.
The Employment Rights Act 1996 (Itemised Pay Statement)(Amendment) Order 2018 is at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/147/made.
Redundancy pay, unfair dismissal and other awards
England, Wales and Scotland
Annual changes to the statutory maximum “weekly pay” for calculating certain statutory entitlements, including statutory redundancy pay and basic compensation for unfair dismissal, take effect on 6 April each year in England, Wales and Scotland. These and related changes are based on the September retail prices index (RPI).
The maximum weekly pay for calculating statutory redundancy pay for redundancies taking effect on or after 6 April 2018, and other payments based on this figure, is £508 (increased from £489).
From 6 April 2018 the limit on guarantee payments when an employee is not provided with work is £28 per day (increased from £27). The minimum award for unlawful inducement relating to trade union membership, trade union activities or collective bargaining, and the minimum compensation for a worker excluded or expelled from a trade union, are £9,474 (increased from £9,118).
For unfair dismissals in England, Wales and Scotland taking effect on or after 6 April 2018, the maximum basic award is £15,240 (increased from £14,760). For unfair dismissal on grounds of health and safety, trade union involvement, serving as an employee representative or occupational pension scheme trustee, or other reasons that are automatically unfair, the minimum basic award is £6,203 (increased from £5.970).
The maximum compensatory award for unfair dismissal is £83,682 (increased from £80,541), or 52 weeks’ of the employee’s normal pay, whichever is lower. The compensatory award is intended to compensate employees for loss of earnings, so normal pay in this context is as defined in s.221 of the Employment Rights Act 1996. It is not “weekly pay” as defined for calculating redundancy pay and the other awards listed above. The maximum does not apply in discrimination and whistleblowing cases, where there is no cap.
Where notice of dismissal has been given before 6 April 2018 but the notice period expires on or after 6 April, the new amounts apply. Where pay in lieu of notice has been given before 6 April, the effective date of dismissal is the date the actual dismissal takes effect, plus the statutory period of notice (one week’s notice per year of employment, to a maximum of 12 weeks). If this would take the effective date of dismissal to 6 April or later, the new amounts apply.
The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2018, covering events taking place between 6 April 2018 and 5 April 2019, is at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2018/194/made.
The Employment Rights (Increase of Limits) Order 2017, covering events taking place between 6 April 2017 and 5 April 2018, is at http://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2017/175/made.
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