UNISON advice on the new contracts for members on old contracts

contractIn light of the changes to the pay scheme on the “new” (post-2012) contracts, I was requested at the supporting people shop stewards committee to circulate revised advice on these contracts for members still on the “old” (pre-2012) contracts, because some members may want to consider switching.

N.b. for advice on the performance scheme see our guidance here.

In general, the new contracts are still inferior to the old, in that they:

  • have a 36 rather than 35 hour week
  • block accrual of additional long service annual leave
  • slash enhancements like overtime and antisocial hours pay
  • give the employer more flexibility to change your hours and make you work nights and weekends
  • give the employer more flexibility to make you work longer hours, possibly with no pay if you are on P&M grades (level 3 zone 1 and above)
  • have a longer notice period if you wish to leave if you are on SO1 or SO2 grades
  • do not let you take dependency leave until you have exhausted your annual leave entitlement
  • abolish some benefits like the accumulated annual leave scheme

However since they were introduced Camden UNISON has achieved several important improvements including:

  • re-establishing the link with national NJC cost of living pay awards for all staff
  • increasing performance related pay increments from an average of 1% to 2%
  • an improved performance monitoring scheme with fewer staff denied pay rises

Also nearly 4 years on, despite the language in the P&M contracts about working hours, so far to our knowledge management has not use this to compel people to work additional hours with no pay.

There is also a bonus scheme, albeit a highly unfair one which we disagree with: see more info here.

Given these changes, depending on individual circumstances it could be worth some members still on the old contracts moving onto the new contracts. This will only be the case for workers on some grades (SO1, PO1, PO3, PO4 and PO6), who are currently at the top pay scale point of the grade, where the grade on the new contracts has more headroom to earn a higher salary in future. Here are the grades, with the top point of the scale on the old contracts compared with the new (as of 1 April 2017):

  • grade – top salary – new grade – top salary
  • SO1 – £31,140 – level 3 zone 1 – £32,874
  • PO1 – £35,070 – level 3 zone 2 – £36,931
  • PO3 – £39,855 – level 4 zone 1 – £40,840
  • PO4 – £42,651 – level 4 zone 2 – £45,520
  • PO6 – £47,292 – level 5 zone 1 – £57,914

If you are on any of these grades you could get extra headroom for pay increases in the future by moving onto the new contracts. If you are deemed as “performing well” you will get a pay increase of 2% of the midpoint of your pay zone each April 1. If you are on any grade other than these (like SO2, PO2, or social worker/occupational therapist grades etc) then you have nothing to gain from moving over and will only lose out.

However the pay scale is not the only factor to take into account, you will also need to bear in mind the other negative factors listed above: particularly if you currently earn pay enhancements or may remain in Camden long enough to accrue additional long service annual leave.

Another factor to consider is your age. If you are on one of the above grades and you are due to retire soon, switching to the new contract to get a pay increase in one of your final years will have a bigger knock-on impact on the final salary element of your pension, so this may outweigh more of the downsides.

Just to be clear that this advice does not mean that we believe that previous advice to most staff to not sign the new contracts was incorrect – apart from anything else the abolition of the NJC pay award link would have been enough to justify not signing, even not considering the longer working week with no additional pay. Nor are we now advising people to sign as such. Given the improvements we have achieved to the new contracts (which has been assisted by the large number of workers who refused to sign), and given that we have now had the chance to review how management has interpreted and applied the new contracts we thought it would be a good time to produce revised guidance.

There is no incentive payment for signing over now, however £1000 received four years ago would not have been sufficient to compensate for what would have been lost to date. We have had some discussions with management, who have said they are considering bringing back an incentive payment to encourage people to sign over, so members should bear this in mind. However given the pay rise deadline being 1 April we felt this advice should be circulated now, as any proposed buyout in the future may be worth less than a PRP increase this April.

For advice on your individual situation speak to your local convenor.

Please note that if you wish to be eligible for a 2% PRP increment 1 April 2017 you will need to switch to the new contract before this date. But please do not switch over without first considering all aspects of the change and discussing it with a union rep, because once you change you can never change back.

If you have discussed this issue with your convener and definitely would like to switch over, you should inform your line manager of your intention and email Resourcing@camden.gov.uk by 31 March. The change should be implemented by the May pay day, backdated to 1 April.

JS

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