Today is the day when the hardworking members of the National Crime Agency should be able to see in their wage slips, an increase in pay following satisfactory conclusion of the pay review process. Unfortunately, this year has seen anything but a satisfactory pay review process - which only started after other pay review bodies had concluded their business for the year.
Following publication of the long awaited remit letter, I am genuinely perplexed at the delay given that it does not guarantee a smooth and rapid delivery of your delayed 2023 pay award - far from it. As it stands, it suggests a further process may be required should there be any requirement to stretch the Civil Service pay remit (4.5% + an additional .5% targeted at lower pay bands).
The NCOA have now been notified that oral presentations to the National Crime Agency Pay Review Body (NCARRB) will not be completed until your October pay day on the 25th. Assuming all parties are able to take part as planned, the following activity will then take place,
• NCARRB will consider the evidence presented by the NCA & NCOA and other interested parties
• They will prepare and present a comprehensive report which includes their recommendations
• The recommendations will be considered by the Home Secretary (with advice from Treasury)
• The Home Secretary having considered the recommendations, will make public her decision on what the actual pay award will be
Given that we are all hopeful that the recommendations will be in excess of 4.5%, it seems likely that the final part of the process will see yet another bureaucratic and time consuming delay. By now, you can see that a pre Christmas pay award, hangs well and truly in the balance.
Last month, I reported on the outcome of the NCOA consultative pay ballot which delivered an understandable position from members in response to the delayed pay award. Although there are legal restrictions affecting just over a third of the workforce, this does not mean you are prevented from making your frustrations clear to both your employer and the Government.
The support to withdraw goodwill was overwhelmingly endorsed as an appropriate mechanism to demonstrate yet another pay delay is unacceptable, and that you are prepared to show your strength of feeling in response. In the face of consistent pay award delays and a flawed pay structure to boot, doing nothing merely demonstrates to the Government in particular, that Agency employees accept the status quo and will simply take what is thrown at them.
Goodwill is delivered across the grades and roles to deliver beyond employee obligations. Given the strong message you sent us in December and now again barely 8 months later, we agree that continuing to deliver goodwill in the absence of your much needed pay award, is no longer appropriate.
What is appropriate is to take action now, the date when you should see your annual pay award, until it finally lands in your pay packets - where it belongs.
Examples of what any withdrawal of goodwill might look like,
- Do you turn up early for work and flip on the computer irrespective of your start time and then continue to work until your scheduled finish? This is an act of goodwill and not a contractual requirement.
- Do you work beyond your normal scheduled pay hours for no additional benefit (pay/toil/flexi)? This is an act of goodwill - you are entitled to receive recompense for any additional hours worked.
- Do you miss your 30min lunch break entitlement away from your desk? This is an act of goodwill - your contract says you should have one. It is your responsibility to take it to ensure your health and well-being as a valued employee.
- Do you often take bags of Agency equipment home to charge up or store, in order to save the Agency time by travelling the next day straight to another place of work - rather than keeping it at the office and picking it up en-route? This is an act of goodwill to help the Agency deliver more efficiently.
- Do you deliver either an informal On-Call service without reimbursement or always remain contactable when not at work? Both are acts of goodwill. If the Agency requires you to be available beyond your working day to respond to an unplanned ‘work’ event they should pay you as per the current On-Call policy.
- Do you feel pressured to deliver an ‘On-Call’ function (with or without payment) because of managerial style or real/perceived risk to
overtime/annual leave requests? Putting aside any potential grievance or complaint you would be entitled to make - are you aware that delivering any ‘On-Call’ function in contractual terms purely voluntary and therefore an act of goodwill unless you joined the Agency after 2019?
- Do you deliver additional working hours requested by your manager for no additional compensation - whether that be overtime, flexi, or TOIL? Whilst we strongly encourage you not to do this (we are regularly informed that ‘overtime is not available in my department’ or ‘we are only allowed to work flexi’) if you are doing so willingly - this is goodwill
No Department or Directorate is exempt from the working hours operating procedures relating to overtime - or more importantly, your own contracts of employment.
At the very least, you must be paid at the Agency’s documented enhanced overtime rate for any pre-authorised additional hours worked. You may choose to accept enhanced TOIL rates instead.
- Do you travel to and from training events under the belief that you are not entitled to overtime, despite the fact that the lengthy travel either side of the training will see you exceed your normal working day? Over time, the travel to training issue has been misinterpreted and inconsistently applied across the Agency. If you are travelling in your own time or not receiving adequate compensation for working beyond your normal working hours - this is an act of goodwill.
Whilst the Training Department often shortens classroom time to minimise working additional hours at training events - the geographic spread of the Agency workforce means this still does not eradicate lengthy days for all officers. The Training Department is also very clear that they will not authorise overtime for attending these events - and nor should they, they have no idea where you live nor what your normal home to work travel time should be. This does not mean that you cannot claim overtime - just that the responsibility to authorise it rests with your local management. In most work areas this has been delegated down to supervisors at G4.
In basic terms, excess hours are excess hours, irrespective of whether they are linked to training, court attendance or administrative functions and as such you are entitled to receive the appropriate compensation.
When it comes to ‘excess hours’ as a result of travelling to or from a training event, pre-authorised enhanced overtime is the norm but if you would like enhanced toil or flexi instead - that is with your agreement not edict or pressure to do so. Even during a period of goodwill - we encourage you to work overtime for enhanced payment, if that is want you want. Why?
- In the absence of a pay award you probably need the money
- Contractually there is an expectation that you may have to work overtime and we are not encouraging anyone to breach their contract
Given the significant delay to the start of the current pay award process, there cannot be a better time to encourage each and every one of you to think about what and why you do things for free - and then simply step back from delivering goodwill, symbolised as an Agency employee by voluntary acts which actually only benefit your employer and extend beyond any contractual requirements you must fulfil.
The NCOA remain committed to working as quickly as possible to secure your pay award and urge you to help play your part by making it clear that enough is enough - no pay award - no goodwill.
Enjoy your bank holiday weekend - you've earned it, see you Tuesday, turn up on time, have a lunch break away from your desk and go home punctually - unless you're being paid to stay of course.
Further communications will be sent out over the next few weeks.
Simon Boon - NCOA General Secretary