Public sector HR leaders have called for “mature discussions” over the salaries paid to senior public servants to ensure that the issue is addressed positively and constructively.
Public sector pay hit the headlines earlier this week when the BBC’s Panorama programme revealed that more than 9,000 public sector workers earn more than the Prime Minister, with 38,045 public sector employees’ incomes exceeding £100,000.
The revelation saw ministers and newspapers attacking the so-called “fat cat” pay of public servants, but the Public Sector People Managers’ Association (PPMA) has called for calm, stressing the need for “mature discussions between employers, employees and trade unions across the whole of the public sector to address these issues positively and constructively”.
Stephen Moir, past president of the PPMA said: “The future for such debate and discussion around remuneration packages does not need to be about the current salaries paid to senior public servants. Instead it must shift firmly towards addressing the arrangements by which pay, pensions and conditions of employment are determined for the most senior people paid in the future.”
The PPMA believes that using a remuneration committee, composed of non-executive directors or locally elected politicians, will help ensure that enhanced accountability, transparency and objectivity become the norm in setting public sector senior salaries.
This should help to further address the many valid concerns and opinions expressed by members of the public, ministers and media commentators, it said.
“There are already many organisations across the public sector incorporating independent assessment of senior remuneration packages, similar to practices adopted by many private sector organisations,” said Moir. “But what we need now is to learn from each other and ensure a consistent approach across the whole of the public sector.”
In June, David Cameron asked economist Will Hutton to examine ways to prevent disparities of pay that lead to the top paid employees in the public sector earning 20 times or more as much as the lowest paid.
Hutton’s review will include staff covered by the senior salaries review body, non-departmental bodies and managers in local government and the NHS, but his remit does not include the BBC or the Royal Mail.