Compensation scheme: Departments urged to proactively revisit redundancy settlements
Union calls for Whitehall employers to seek out departed staff and pay additional settlements after successful High Court challenge to revised Civil Service Compensation Scheme
Whitehall departments are being urged to seek out staff who took exit packages under the 2016 Civil Service Compensation Scheme and improve their settlements in line with the guidelines it replaced, following a successful High Court challenge.
The PCS union, which was instrumental to the case, said it was pressing departments to contact anyone who had left – or is due to leave – under the newer, less-favourable terms, so that the earlier CSCS standards can be applied.
Last week the High Court quashed the 2016 changes – which had been introduced in November – on the grounds that the PCS and other Whitehall unions had not been properly consulted on the proposals. Hundreds of civil servants are understood to have left their jobs under the now-invalid terms.
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Earlier this week, HM Revenue & Customs told staff it had both halted existing redundancy schemes and delayed launching a proposed new scheme after judges ruled the revised scheme be quashed.
In a statement, PCS said most staff who had left the civil service on redundancy packages since 8 November 2016 would have done so on terms that were more detrimental than those they were now entitled to under the reinstated 2010 scheme.
“Consequently, [the judgment] potentially puts thousands of pounds more in the pockets of workers covered by the scheme,” it said.
“It protects the redundancy terms of civil servants, overturning legislation that made it quicker, easier and cheaper for the government to fire its staff.”
Proposals to change the CSCS were originally put out for consultation in February last year, and initial rounds of talks were held with all Whitehall unions to discuss the changes.
But a senior Cabinet Office official subsequently wrote to civil service unions proposing a further round of talks and stating that attendance at these discussions would be “taken as a clear commitment” that government’s proposals would form the basis of new arrangements that unions would then recommend to their members.
In a bid to avoid more stringent terms being imposed, unions Prospect and the FDA took part in negotiations, but the PCS declined because of the "commitment" that the pre-condition would entail. The High Court judgment last month said the situation amounted to exclusion.
Lord Justice Sales and Mrs Justice Whipple said it was “not surprising” the union was unable to give such a commitment and ruled that the then Cabinet Officer minister Ben Gummer acted unlawfully, and in breach of his statutory duty, by excluding the union from the talks.
They ordered the Cabinet Office to cover PCS’s costs and refused it the right to appeal their decision.
However the Cabinet Office subsequently said it intended to challenge the decision in the Court of Appeal.
Civil Service World approached the Cabinet Office for its response to PCS’s call for departments to pro-actively seek out leavers and improve their 2016 scheme settlements. It said there was nothing more to add to its previous statement.
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