NHS staff, teachers and police officers are on track to enjoy pay rises until at least 2011, quashing concerns that deflation will cause millions of public sector workers to endure pay freezes, according to an expert.
Last week, the government confirmed that three-year pay awards for NHS staff, teachers and police officers, set last year, will still be met in full this year. This was despite anxiety that a further fall in the Retail Prices Index – used to set public sector pay – could lead to the government reneging on pay deals.
Under the agreements, nurses will receive a 2.4% increase in 2009-10, with a further 2.25% boost the following year. Teachers will get an additional 2.3% for this year and the next, while police officers' pay will increase by 2.6% in 2009-10, with another 2.55% rise in 2010-11.
Charles Cotton, reward adviser at the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, told Personnel Today he expected these public sector workers to continue receiving pay rises until deals are renegotiated in two years time.
"At the time these pay awards were actually below inflation," he said. "The government would be open to challenge by the unions if they were to renege on a review of these deals. Next year's [pay rise] would be just in time for an election, and I can't imagine anyone wanting to upset the workers and unions."
Meanwhile, the Public Sector People Managers' Association renewed calls to implement a pay award for local government workers, pointing out that freezing pay rises would lead to long-term problems in recruitment and retention.