Local govt relief at Tupe pension cover

Local government HR professionals have welcomed the Government’s decision to
protect public sector employees’ pensions if they are transferred to private
sector organisations.

Last week local government minister Stephen Byers confirmed that the
Government is acting to protect council staff transferred to commercial
organisations as part of its drive to increase the role of the private sector
in the delivery of public services.

Byers said that under the Best Value review of local government, staff
moving from the public sector to the private will retain their Local Government
Pension Scheme or be given access to a ‘broadly comparable’ scheme.

Keith Handley, chairman of local government HR body Socpo’s pensions and age
diversity group, supports the changes to Transfer of Undertakings and Protect
of Employment.

"The LGPS is one of our most undersold recruitment tools in local
authorities and it should be automatically available for everybody working
within the now widening local government sector," he said.

"I am pleased the Government appears to have listened to concerns about
a two-tier workforce and has created a fairer approach which should stop the
current abuse with regard to the local authority contracting process."

A code of practice, to be written into individual Best Value contracts
between authorities and private companies, is to be drawn up which will also
offer new contracted staff similar terms and conditions, including pensions, as
transferred council staff to prevent a two-tier workforce.

Under the code, unions will be given consultation rights on terms and
conditions for new recruits.

Roger Bennett, assistant chief executive at Kings Lynn & West Norfolk
Borough Council and chairman of the Socpo modernisation group, said: "I am
cautiously oprimistic. By and large it will cut out cowboy contractors who make
the contract work through offering poor conditions. The devil is in the detail
of what ‘rough comparable’ means and it will be interesting the first time this
is used in a tribunal."


By Paul Nelson

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