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Dealing with equal pay
Equal pay continues to be a really difficult issue in local government. This video podcast and supporting audio podcast outline what LGE is doing to help councils deal with the situation and includes interviews from Jan Parkinson, LGE Managing Director, Mick Brodie, Director North East Regional Employers Organisation, and Jim Savege, Corporate Director for Organisational Development, Cumbria County Council.
To play the video, click the play button on the video player below. If you can't see this then you may need to install Flash player on your computer.
In the audio podcast (length: 8 minutes 33 seconds) Jim Savege shares more on his and other councils' experiences of dealing with equal pay issues. To listen to the audio, click the play button on the player below. If you can't see the player then you may need to install Flash player on your computer.
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Podcast content summary
Jan Parkinson starts by giving an overview of the current status of equal pay and summarises what LGE is doing to help. (Time: 00.17 – 02.15)
Here are the key points Jan makes:
- It’s a difficult, costly and time-consuming issue dealing with equal pay but not impossible
- It really came to a head over the past 3 to 4 years in local government and research shows about 50% of councils in England, Wales and Northern Ireland have undertaken equal pay reviews
- There are big costs attached – an estimated £1.5bn will have been added to the pay bill long term when changes are complete and there is an estimated back pay cost of £1bn
Jan believes there are really four things that are very important in helping councils to deal with the problems. These are:
1. Nationally we got the Government to agree to additional capitalisation - which helps councils pay for back pay.
Then there are three things at European level we’re trying to change:
2. Pay protection – provide clarity on when pay protection can happen and not be challenged in the court.
3. To reduce the years of back pay from 6 years to 2 years – which would reduce costs and is often accepted by many staff in compromise deals.
4. Have a moratorium when equal pay reviews are being done – to enable an organisation to undertake reviews without having to face litigation at the same time.
LGE want to make collective bargaining the lynchpin of this, because negotiation is always better than litigation.
All of this started in the North East and North East Regional Employers Organisation has been at the forefront of this for a number of years. Mick Brodie, Director of North East Regional Employers Organisation talks about the lessons to be learnt from this for other Councils. (Time: 02.19 – 03.18)
- Enormous costs – c. £100m to local authorities in the North East
- Huge Disruption – not just in HR and Legal departments but right across authorities and the impact this has on services
- Undertake detailed risk assessment – authorities need to develop their own strategies to manage that risk
In the future we need to:
- Carefully assess the implication of recent Court of Appeal judgements
- Keep a careful eye on other cases that are still developing
This all leads to enormous pressure on HR professionals and Jim Savege, Corporate Director for Organisational Development at Cumbria County Council talks about the key issues for equal pay from the HR perspective. He believes it’s a far bigger question than just HR and workforce. (Time: 03.10 – 03.59)
His advice is to make sure:
- That the organisation understands the real implications of single status and equal pay in terms of budget and service delivery
- That staff are aware, informed and engaged all the time
- That all systems are up to speed and able to support the agenda
- That you have good and strong relationships with trade unions in all aspects of work, not just to do with equal pay
To hear more from Jim, listen to his audio podcast (length: 8 minutes 33 seconds) - simply click the play button on the player below. If you can't see this then you may need to install Flash player on your computer.
Downloading the audio podcast
To download the audio podcast to your desktop as an MP3 file, right click the download link below and select ‘Save target as…’ or 'Save link as...'. This will allow you to save the file to any location on your computer.
Jan finishes with some key messages to councils (Time: 04.05 – 04.53)
We are aware that sometimes Councils feel very isolated and that they are dealing with the equal pay issues totally on their own.
I would like to assure everyone that we are not leaving them on their own and we are working very hard at National level talking to Government and at European level and with other bodies such as The Equalities and Human Rights Commission to try and help resolve these issues for them.
There are a couple of messages for Councils in terms of equal pay:
- Keep talking at local level – to trade unions, employees and keep members involved in what is going on
- Complete the surveys that will be coming out soon – this helps us work better on your behalf (the survey was sent out on 21 October)
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