Unions vote through MoJ reform deal to increase pay, but cut overtime rates

Three-year offer will see wages rise by 9.9% on average in return for terms-and-conditions tweaks
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Union members at the Ministry of Justice have voted through a pay offer that will see wages for staff rise by an average 9.9% over three years, in return for reforms to working conditions including changes to hours and overtime rates.

Members of three civil service unions – PCS, the FDA and Prospect – and the GMB union, which represents staff including prison and probation officers, voted to approve the offer, which will see pay for civil servants working below senior civil service level increase by a minimum of 4% over three years.

Under the deal, pay will go up by 4.13% for 2020-21, 2.79% this year and 2.79% next year.

The offer, which was more than two years in the making, came after HM Revenue and Customs reached a pay deal that busted the public sector pay cap implemented at last year's budget, while overhauling terms and conditions.

The MoJ offer is 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.

Staff who cannot increase their working hours to 37 a week will be given the option to convert to part time, or stay 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 means civil servants from administrative officer to higher executive officer grades will get time and a quarter for overtime, while those at senior executive officer and above will be paid the equivalent of their normal working rate.

However, SEO legal advisers at HM Courts and Tribunals Service will continue to receive time and a quarter for overtime. A weekend and bank holiday coverage scheme paying premium rates will be negotiated separately with HMCTS.

In a ballot that closed at noon yesterday, 89.6% of members at PCS, the civil service’s biggest trade union, voted to accept the offer, on a 62.82% turnout. 

“We would like to thank all members who participated in the ballot, as well as the members from the other unions who also voted in favour of the offer. We will be issuing a more detailed briefing which outlines next steps in due course,” PCS said in a statement.

The union said it had gained 500 members during the ballot process. 

It said it would continue to engage with members on a review the MoJ is planning on specialist pay.

MOJ had had some of the lowest pay minimas in the civil service and this is the first step towards a pay structure that properly rewards the skills and experience of staff.

FDA national officer Steven Littlewood said 88% of the union's members in the MoJ had voted the offer through, "giving a strong mandate for this deal that will help to alleviate the pay issues of those trapped at the lower end of the pay ranges".

"MOJ had had some of the lowest pay minimas in the civil service and this is the first step towards a pay structure that properly rewards the skills and experience of staff," he said.

"However, there is more to be done, and as an immediate priority we will be strongly advocating for members in the forthcoming review of specialist pay.”

The current MoJ offer was made three years after union members rejected a proposed deal 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.

An MoJ spokesperson said: “We are pleased trade unions have accepted this pay deal, which will 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.

“Ministry of Justice starting salaries have been among the lowest in government - addressing this will support recruitment and retention of talented staff and help drive the recovery of the justice system following the pandemic.”

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