Grade 6 and Grade 7 staff at the Government Legal Department are now able to claim more pay for overtime than in the past following long-running negotiations between bosses and the FDA union against the backdrop of increased workloads and job vacancies.
Departmental staff at the qualifying grades will now be paid extra when they do more than 15 hours of overtime in a three-week period, the GLD confirmed. They cannot claim any compensation for their first 15 hours of overtime during that period, however for any hours they work on top of that they will be paid time and a half on weekdays and at double their usual rate on weekends.
It is the first time Grade 6 staff have been able to claim for overtime. Previously Grade 7 staff had to complete 30 hours of overtime before they could ask for additional pay.
The rule change is temporary in the first instance, and will remain in effect until 31 March 2020.
A spokesperson for the department confirmed the change, telling CSW: “The Government Legal Department is committed to supporting and rewarding its employees and has made these changes in recognition of the huge amount of additional work being done across GLD to support the government in these unprecedented times and the number of lawyer vacancies we are carrying.”
The announcement follows a two-year campaign by the FDA, beginning with a call for a review of the department’s “antiquated” overtime and time-off-in-lieu policy in 2016. The union has claimed it as a major victory for staff.
“The long hours culture and refusal to pay overtime meant that FDA members were working six days a week but paid for only five,” said national officer Simon Hardcastle, who was closely involved in the negotiations. “Paying people for the actual hours they work is a first step in the right direction to fairness and equality and this achievement is down to the FDA’s campaign.”
The rules have also been changed for part-time staff, who will now be paid at their regular rate for any extra hours they work up to their full-time equivalent. After that they will receive the same rate of overtime pay as their full-time colleagues.
The FDA said the previous rules could effectively lead to part-time staff working anything up to full-time hours on some occasions but receiving only their regular wage.
According to the union, the GLD People Committee put a similar proposal forward last spring only for it to be rejected on the grounds that it “would not support the culture of diversity and inclusion and good work life balance that [the department] wants to promote”.
GLD also said at the time that it “could discriminate against colleagues who have caring or other responsibilities”.
But it changed its stance in December, when permanent secretary and Treasury solicitor Jonathan Jones told the union that it would amend the policy.
Despite welcoming the change, the FDA has said it will continue to campaign for GLD staff to be paid for any work they do outside their contracted hours.
“The next step is to remove the requirement to gift 15 hours each month before staff qualify for overtime. GLD staff must have gifted over a million free hours since the first piece of Brexit related legislation – The European Union Referendum Act – received Royal Assent on 17 December 2015,” Hardcastle said.
“Enough is enough for working pro bono in GLD.”
Writing for CSW’s annual permanent secretaries’ round up last month, Jones said ensuring the GLD had the right staff with the right skills was one of the department’s greatest challenges for the year ahead.
“Our people are our most valuable resource, and should be acknowledged for their commitment, passion and dedication to helping the government to govern well,” he wrote.