Earlier this week, the Chair of the National Crime Agency Remuneration Review Body (NCARRB), took the unprecedented step of writing to the Home Secretary to express concerns regarding the absence of both the Agency and Home Office pay submissions. It was laid bare that if these submissions were not delivered quickly, there was an increasing possibility that the NCARRB would be unable to deliver their report (and recommendations) by Christmas.
Whilst this is of course concerning, there is a degree of predictability to the points raised formally at the highest level, given the considerable delays linked to the 2022 process. We understand the NCA is working hard to get their pay submission to the NCARRB for consideration, but we now know from those appointed to consider all the evidence, that unless these pivotal pay submissions arrive soon, there may not be enough time to secure a pay award before 2024.
In previous communications from the NCOA, we looked ahead hopefully that with a will by all parties, the 2023 pay award would land in time to help with the increased family expenditure associated with the Christmas break. Even for those who do not celebrate Christmas, some financial assistance with the inevitable increases to domestic fuel and heating across the winter period, would help bring some welcome respite.
The NCA is a 24/7 law enforcement organisation which cannot simply shut down for Christmas and whilst it does of course ‘trim down’ its workplace attendance at this time, unfortunately, some of you will still be required to work, to ensure the public are kept safe.
Annual leave apart, the Agency has historically placed a great deal of reliance on ‘Standby’ teams, and ‘On-call’ rotas to ensure there is some additional resilience across the festive season which it can call upon as circumstances dictate.
Heading towards Christmas, NCOA members are in an unacceptable position where once again, their annual pay award has not been paid in August - despite the significant financial pressures being faced by all. In response, there was a strong mandate to support a withdrawal of goodwill which symbolically came in to effect on the 25th August (2023 Pay Award salary day).
We are buoyed by some of the evidence received via our reps, of members making a strong stand to show their dissatisfaction at the missing pay award - demonstrated without personal risk by the withdrawal of goodwill. Less positive, are stories of managers actively seeking to publicly identify those who are do not intend to deliver goodwill until the pay award delay has been resolved.
This is a quite shocking response from managers who are themselves affected by a missing pay award and we would ask them to reflect on their actions and place themselves in the position of colleagues (particularly lower grades) who will most definitely be feeling the impact of the current cost-of-living crisis.
We have raised our concerns re the use of this unsavoury tactic at the highest level, and would like to remind everyone that goodwill is ‘free’ - personal time and actions which in normal circumstances are willingly given by staff. It is not a given right by the Agency to expect it - particularly against the backdrop of pay award failings.
The Agency is already gearing itself up for Christmas, and within any period of withdrawal of goodwill my advice to you is as follows,
Whilst ACAS is quite clear that ‘standby’ relates to, ‘employees being those who are expected to be available for work outside regular hours, sometimes at short notice’, we cannot recommend being on standby, given the fact that there is no compensation method for you to fall back on through any existing NCA Policies or Operating Procedures.
However, if in response to a critical event, the Agency calls you unexpectedly - and you are available, and happy to be called in to work (for overtime), then that is an entirely different matter - the decision is yours.
The Agency does though have Policies and Operating procedures which clearly outline the management of on-call. Being on-call places several restrictions on an individual and as a consequence, they are compensated accordingly. There is an expectation that managers simply ensure that these policies and procedures are adopted correctly.
- Delivering any official on-call function is only a contractual obligation for those who have it detailed within a contract of employment after Sept 2019.
- Anyone for whom there is no contractual obligation, may though ‘voluntarily’ agree to undertake on-call duties.
- On-call rotas should be published by the Agency and made available. There should be no ambiguity, and members should clearly know that they are on-call and therefore entitled to receive appropriate financial recompense.
- On a working day or 'non-working' day (different to a 'rest day'), there can only be one period of on-call, which commences at the end of your work period.
- On-call units across any rest day are in paid in 12hr blocks. (e.g. Being on-call for 16hrs, secures 2x on-call payments).
- On-call payments across the weekend attract 5 on-call payments (6pm-6am, 6am-6pm etc).
- If as a result of being on-call, you are returned to duty or ‘called out’, you are entitled to receive overtime to reflect any period of extra duties performed. This is in addition to any on-call compensation entitlement.
Historically, we have been made aware of on-call periods being manipulated by a minority of senior managers in order to deliver a more attractive solution for the employer (to the detriment of the employee) and we would ask that you bring examples of these to our attention - irrespective of any contractual obligation to deliver on-call you may have. e.g., Rotas where a single block of on-call straddles two days - midday to midday.
Like on-call, withdrawing goodwill is a matter of personal choice, and we would ask each of you to consider how you can demonstrate your strength of feeling at a second significantly delayed pay award.
The NCOA remains committed to working collaboratively to secure a pay award as quickly as possible and will update you as a defined timeline becomes known.
Simon Boon - NCOA General Secretary