The Ministry of Justice has offered staff a pay deal that will see salaries go up by an average of 9.9% over three years, in return for reforms to working conditions including changes to hours and overtime payments.
The pay offer put to unions this week will see pay for civil servants working below senior civil service level increase by a minimum of 4% over three years.
If union members vote to accept the offer, pay will go up by 4.13% for 2020-21, 2.79% this year and 2.79% next year.
The offer, which is more than two years in the making, comes several months after unions accepted a deal for HM Revenue and Customs staff that also busted the public sector pay cap implemented at last year's budget, while overhauling terms and conditions.
The MoJ's proposed pay increase is part of a similar reform package that introduces a 37-hour working week across the board and cuts overtime payments for some staff.
The standardised working week will mean an increase in hours for some MoJ officials, who will receive a buyout, or compensation payment, based on their current pay rate if the deal is voted through.
Staff who cannot increase their working hours to 37 a week would be given the option to convert to part time, or staying on their current hours. However, these staff may see their pay decrease as they would receive a pro-rata salary based on those hours.
The deal would mean civil servants from administrative officer to higher executive officer grades would get time and a quarter for overtime, while those at senior executive officer and above would be paid the equivalent of their normal working rate.
SEO legal advisers at HM Courts and Tribunals Service would be the exception to this rule, continuing to receive time and a quarter for overtime. There would also be a weekend and bank holiday coverage scheme that pays premium rates, which would be separately negotiated with HMCTS.
The deal comes three years after union members rejected an offer that would have seen pay for some staff increase by 11% over five years, the working week increase to 38 hours for full-time staff, and introduce more Saturday and bank holiday working without overtime.
Negotiations with unions over the latest proposals began earlier this year, after the Cabinet Office and Treasury approved a business plan submitted in October.
To go through, the deal must be approved by four unions – FDA, Prospect, PCS and GMB – which are currently balloting their members on whether or not to accept it.
An MoJ spokesperson said: “We are engaging with trade unions on proposed significant reforms to make the Ministry of Justice more competitive – ensuring we can hire and retain the best staff to serve the public, across the country.
“Any pay increases will be funded from existing budgets with no additional cost to the taxpayer."
The department has typically been among the lowest paying in Whitehall at several grades, with a complex and inconsistent pay structure, the spokesperson said.
“Addressing this will support recruitment and retention of talented staff across the country, and help us in our work to drive the recovery of the justice system following the pandemic," they added.
A spokesperson for PCS, the civil service’s biggest trade union, said: "The union has negotiated hard for this offer and it presents the best opportunity for securing meaningful pay rises for the majority of our MoJ members."