Councils struggle to implement single-status pay agreements

Councils across the UK continue to be plagued by problems implementing the government’s single-status pay initiative.

Last week, Birmingham City Council warned that delivering the single-status agreement could cost £200m in legal costs, wage rises and back pay.

Sunderland and Gateshead councils also face the prospect of industrial action after union members rejected a deal that would have meant pay cuts for some workers.

The government’s single-status agreement, devised in 1997, requires councils to harmonise pay and conditions for comparable posts – affecting 1.5 million public sector employees.

The agreement aims to break down workplace divides which have meant that some employees traditionally received better pay, more annual leave and enhanced sick-pay arrangements than colleagues doing jobs of equal value.

Birmingham is in the process of evaluating the jobs and salaries of each of its 39,500 non-teacher employees. Many workers will receive a pay rise and back pay, estimated at an average 17% increase.

However, the evaluation process will also identify people who are being paid too much for their jobs.

Andy Albon, director of HR at Birmingham, said the nature of the new ranking evaluation inevitably produced both gainers and losers. “This has been problematic for the local trade unions, particularly in relation to losers,” he said.

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