HR are attempting to sell the performance related pay (PRP) element of the new contracts to staff by claiming that they will “reward people based on their individual contribution”.
However, we believe the reality is entirely different. In one of the HR workshops about the new terms and conditions in children, schools and families, a manager asked if it is supposed to reward people based on their individual contribution, why were managers in her department told they couldn’t rate anyone higher than 3, or “good”? When HR tried to deny this practice, senior management confirmed that this instruction had been given, due to the results of an OFSTED inspection of the department.
Many managers have confirmed to UNISON that they are unable to give the appraisal ratings they want to people they supervise, as workers’ grades are forced downwards in “moderation”.
On top of this, the appraisal process does not only monitor performance, but also sickness. So outstanding performance could be penalised due to being ill or disabled. One UNISON member was downgraded from a 4 to 3 after being sent home sick by his manager for 5 days with swine flu earlier in the year which took his sickness to 7 days for the year.
UNISON has also represented senior managers, some of whom voluntarily moved on to performance related pay a couple of years ago. When PRP came in some members saw their appraisal ratings drop. One member was downgraded from a 3 to 2, despite the fact she had been on maternity leave for almost the entire year!
Other councils where PRP has been introduced have seen it used as a way of giving bonuses to senior managers at the expense of everyone else. One UNISON member’s experience of working in a borough with PRP was that the application of the scheme was highly subjective, and depended very much on your relationship with management and your grade. The member told us “UNISON there submitted a number of Freedom of Information requests as to what level of increments were awarded sorted by grade. After much prevarication when they reluctantly provided us with the figures, their hesitancy was understandable – managers awarded themselves on average 25%-30% higher performance measures than mainstream staff.”
And on top of all this, in Camden workers above scale 6 will no longer automatically get annual union-negotiated cost of living pay increases, which could easily counteract any supposed performance related increase when the pay freeze ends – which UNISON is currently campaigning for. Workers on scale 6 or below will no longer be able to get to the top of their scale, unless they get two consecutive years being rated at 4 or 5 – which may never happen.
Indeed, the council admits that they are making these changes to save £2 million per year – nearly £700 per employee. So we think it is highly unlikely that many workers will benefit from PRP in any way. And any benefit for some would be counteracted by the increase in the length of the working week with no extra pay – which equates to a 2.9% hourly pay cut.
What should I do?
- Keep calm and do not sign up to the new contracts
- Join UNISON if you’re not a member already, or get a colleague to join if you are
- Get organised – elect a local union representative
- Forward this article to colleagues
- Read more about the new contracts here.