Union rejects ‘unacceptable’ HMRC pay award

HMRC says it will go ahead with the deal, which will see some officials get as little as 2%
Photo: Kevin Britland/Alamy

By Tevye Markson

23 Aug 2023

PCS has rejected a third department’s pay award for 2023-24, calling it an “unacceptable, below inflation” pay rise.

HM Revenue and Customs has offered its civil servants pay rises between 4-6% but those at Executive Officer and Senior Executive Officer/Higher Executive Officer grades will get a smaller consolidated pay increase if they are already close or at the top of their pay range. This means some officials in the department will get a pay bump as low as 2%. 

PCS’s HMRC executive group said the offer “falls significantly below” its demands for a 10% increase to address the cost-of-living crisis, fails to secure consolidated and pensionable rises of a minimum of 4.5% for all staff, does not address issues of “endemic poverty pay” and is “in effect a pay cut” as it is below inflation. The Cabinet Office remit guidance for departments asked them to pay average pay awards of 4.5% topped up by 0.5% to be targeted at the lower pay bands.

The union has already rejected offers from the Department of Work and Pensions and Department for Transport. The Home Office’s deal – where all officials will get a minimum 4.5% pay rise – got the union’s seal of approval last month, however.

The HMRC offer ranges from 4.26% to 6.27% depending on grade, however as the maximums of the pay ranges are not being increased, staff who are on or near the maximum of their pay range will not receive a fully consolidated and pensionable increase in salary.

All officials at Administrative Assistant level are paid the same and will get a 5.07% rise, taking their pay to £24,004. It is the same for Administrative Officers, who will get a 6.2% boost, taking their salaries to £24,278.

But for EOs and SEO/HEOs, some will get as little as 2% in consolidated pay.

EOs will get a 5.05% rise but those close to or at the maximum will get less as the highest pay point is is increasing by just 2%. So for those already at the maximum of their grade, they will get 2% consolidated and 3.05% unconsolidated.

There is a similar picture at SEO/HEO level, where there will be a 4.26% rise. This will be a 2% consolidated, 2.26% unconsolidated increase for those at the maximum.

The new pay ranges are £28,341 – £30,323 at EO level and £35,092 to £37,725 for SEO/HEO. Anything above the maximum is unconsolidated.

PCS said it “does not feel that this is acceptable”.

The union also raised concerns about the differential between pay at AA and AO grades, which is just £274.

In April 2023 over 19,000 HMRC staff were given an uplift in salary to meet the requirements of the legal minimum wage. This resulted in AA and AO grades being paid the same, PCS said. 

HMRC has set out an ambition to have a 5% differential between the AA and AO grades rather than a merged spot rate but the rate of difference with the new pay rise is just 1%. PCS said it “can see no realistic prospect of delivering on that ambition without extra funding”.

Current projections indicate that there will be a further significant increase to the legal minimum in April 2024 meaning any differential is likely to be wiped out again next year, the union added.

HMRC said it will push ahead with the pay award, which is expected to reach pay packets in October and will be backdated to June.

An HMRC spokesperson said: “Investing in a good pay offer for colleagues is important to us in our ambition to create a great place to work and to support them during a challenging economic time.  

“This deal recognises the hard work and vital importance of HMRC staff and is in line with the cross-government pay remit set out in April.

“We’ve had extensive negotiations with relevant trade unions, however, after being unable to reach agreement with PCS, HMRC is implementing the offer.”

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