The Public Sector People Managers’ Association (PPMA) has warned the government that the adoption of unitary status by councils could lead to a ‘postcode lottery’ for workers, as their employment-transition arrangements are drawn up.
The PPMA, which represents senior HR managers in the public sector, has written to local government secretary Ruth Kelly, urging her to introduce a national framework to protect council employees, as local authorities rush to adopt unitary status.
The recent White Paper on local government invited bids for unitary status with a deadline of 25 January 2007.
Without a national framework, the PPMA warned, fairness and equity for workers transferring to a new single-tier organisation could be sacrificed in favour of the most economic, or politically beneficial settlement.
The association also said that failure to implement a national framework could lead to a deterioration of industrial relations, as unions would be able to challenge each and every settlement on an individual basis.
Gill Hibberd, PPMA lead on organisational development, said: “When a council adopts unitary status, the people transferring into the new organisation come from several previous employers, all with their own employment conditions. When the new authority draws up its employee terms, the temptation will be to harmonise down to the lowest common denominator.
“This will lead to a postcode lottery, with huge fluctuations in how council workers are treated from one region to the next. It will also mean that considerable time is wasted on local negotiations with the unions, which would be better spent managing the process of change.”