Some Unison members who are on secondments in higher-graded posts and who signed the new contracts noticed on 13 June that they seemed to have been underpaid: some by hundreds of pounds. However, upon raising this with HR, HR have stated it is not a mistake. Read on for a full explanation of the problem.
Workers from P&M grades (old SO1 and up) acting up in higher graded P&M posts have had their acting up allowance slashed by up to almost £80 per month, and some staff whose substantive posts are on SP grades (old scale 6 and below) acting up in P&M have just not received any bonus or pay increase at all, regardless of their performance rating.
HR have responded to queries on this quoting the Secondments guidance for managers document from 2010, particularly the following section:
8.1 -Pay Review
8.1.1 The acting up payment is for the duration of the acting up arrangement. Where a pay review occurs during an acting-up arrangement any increase in salary would be applicable to the substantive post.
So what has happened seems to be the following, which is slightly different depending on the grade of the acting up on the substantive post (with these examples for simplicity and to illustrate the different elements of performance related pay we will assume that a performance rating of 4 was awarded, which should mean a 2.5% pay increase and a 1% one-off bonus):
Substantive post P&M grade, secondment post P&M grade
In this scenario depending on their performance rating the salary of their substantive post has been increased by 2.5%. Say this comes to £75 per month. Then their acting up allowance has been cut by £75 per month, leaving their salary staying the same. Their bonus has been paid at 1% of their substantive post.
Substantive post SP grade, secondment post P&M grade
In this case if the individual was at the top of their grade in their substantive post then no increase was given and no bonus was paid. If the individual was due an increment then what we think may happen (as we have not seen an example like this yet) is that the increment was awarded but then the acting up allowance would be cut by the same amount.
Substantive post SP grade, secondment post SP grade
We have not seen a concrete example of this scenario yet so if you are in this situation please contact us to let us know. However if it meets the same pattern then we assume that the increment would be awarded to the substantive post and the acting up allowance would be cut by the same amount.
Apart from the fact these are effective pay cuts, this is not something which staff or the union were informed of prior to staff being offered the option of signing the new contracts. Indeed, some workers have told us that they were were verbally informed by managers that being in a secondment would not affect their pay after signing the new contract. And indeed the guidance which has resulted in this was not agreed by Unison, and it predates the introduction of performance related pay by three years, and so is completely out of date and unfit for purpose in any case.
Importantly, the guidance that pay reviews are only applied to substantive posts, not acting up posts. However, the appraisal process now appraises staff in their acting up posts. Therefore it seems unfair to only apply pay increases to substantive posts. Also, its leaves the perverse situation where one member was graded 5 in their substantive post and 4 in their acting up post, then received a pay increase to their substantive post based on the percentage increases for a 4!
What can we do
Unison is raising this issue urgently with senior management and HR. In the meantime we would urge members to raise queries about this with HR direct by e-mailing them and copying in your union rep. We also urge members to query this with their line managers. If you are not yet a member of Unison join today!
We will report back on our discussions with senior management as soon as possible.