A judicial review of the government’s proposed cuts to Whitehall redundancy packages is on track to reach the High Court as early as March, unions have said.
The Public Commercial Services union (PCS), the FDA and Prospect announced in December they would seek a judicial review of the government’s plans to cut the Civil Service Compensation Scheme (CSCS) ahead of an expected wave of Whitehall job cuts.
Under the changes intended to take effect on 1 April, the government will cap Whitehall severance pay at a maximum of two years’ salary for employees earning £25,000 or more – civil servants who have worked in Whitehall for 20 years are currently entitled to three years’ pay – while people who rejoin the Civil Service after receiving a severance payment will be required to pay some of the money back.
Unions are confident the judicial review – sought partly because unions claim the government failed to consult with them over the changes – will take place unless the government agrees to negotiate with unions.
A PCS spokesman told Personnel Today: “Effectively what will happen is the judicial review will kick in once the government lays the order before parliament. We are looking at that happening in March.
“We anticipate that it will be quite swift. We are working with our solicitors and the other unions in terms of formulating our argument.”
The unions are seeking judicial review over the government’s decision not to consult unions over the changes, and to implement the changes with only an order in parliament – not an act of parliament, which would require debate on the changes and a vote in favour of their implementation.
The spokesman added talks with the government over the changes were scheduled to take place “over the next few weeks” to attempt to find a resolution to the dispute. “We hope we can reach a negotiated, solid settlement there,” he said.
Meanwhile the PCS union is to begin a ballot for industrial action on 4 February over the proposed CSCS changes. A statement on the body’s website said: “The government’s proposed changes to the CSCS would make job cuts cheaper at a time when we know that all the main political parties are planning huge public spending cuts. All members would be at greater risk of redundancy.”