NCOA Enters Into Formal Dispute With The Agency


No sense of urgency from the Agency pushes NCOA into dispute over holiday pay

Dear Members, 

In 2014 an important ruling saw a requirement for regular overtime payments to be reflected in the pay packets of employees - even during periods of leave when they may not physically work excess hours. This initial ruling, simply referred to as Bear Scotland has been subsequently subject to a number of challenges and minor adjustments, but the principal of ‘holiday’ pay remains the same. 

Notably, whilst the Police were swift to introduce a positive monetary response to the ruling, the Agency has been slow to recognise its duties as an employer and the legal responsibilities brought about by this ruling. Having initially raised the issue in our engagement with the employee relations team, we eventually formed the opinion that the Agency neither recognised its responsibilities, nor that it had any intention of making Bear Scotland payments to staff. 

In June 2022 we therefore escalated the issue to the Joint Negotiation and Consultation Committee (JNCC) - a move which makes it very clear that we have been unable to secure a satisfactory resolution to the problem and require oversight and an Agency position at a more senior level.  

At that meeting, it became clear for the first time, that the Agency did recognise its legal responsibilities and would introduce Bear Scotland payments from August 2022. Unfortunately, the terms offered did not meet with our expectations with regards to backdating of these payments in particular. In light of our opposing positions, we secured a commitment from the Agency that, ‘an appropriate debated discussion outside this forum will ensue’.

Given the intention to introduce payments in time for the August pay run, the purpose of swift engagement was to secure the best outcome for our members - not to delay its implementation. I am therefore disappointed to report that this important engagement with us has failed to materialise.

Whilst we are aware that the 2022/23 pay award has to some degree been delayed by factors beyond the NCA’s control, implementing Bear Scotland payments is a legal requirement, with clear guidance within the most recent pay remit guidance from the Treasury,

“Increases in remuneration made specifically to fulfil the legal obligation to include payments for regularly worked overtime in statutory holiday calculations should be considered outside of the headline pay awards, providing that the increases are made only to the extent that they fulfil the legal requirements.” 

With the energy price cap shift due to be confirmed tomorrow and inflation now in double figures, any annual pay award delay at this time is untenable, a failure to work swiftly to introduce long overdue holiday payments is unforgiveable.

Earlier this week, we took the decision to enter into formal dispute with the Agency seeking an urgent resolution recognising both the issue at hand and the wider economic impact facing our members. This course of action is not one we have ever taken lightly but the Agency’s inaction and time it has taken so far leaves us with no other option.

In direct response to entering into formal dispute, the NCOA will be meeting with an Agency representative on Thursday in accordance with the Stage 2 requirements of the agreed Dispute Resolution Model within the Employee Relations Policy. Whilst we are hopeful a satisfactory agreement will be reached; it will require a sense of urgency from your employer and a desire to treat our concerns on your behalf as a priority.

We will report further as our engagement on this matter progresses, along with any Agency response to a set of additional recommendations made through a separate engagement mechanism earlier this week. If these recommendations are adopted by the Agency, they will help to further alleviate some of the financial hardship faced by our members who may not be regular overtime claimants.

Simon Boon

NCOA General Secretary