3rd December 2014
SFRS Proposals for Monthly Pay Frequency:
The FBU have attended meetings of the Service HR Payroll team who are considering the harmonisation of the 19 current pay runs and also of the 3 current pay frequencies (monthly, 4 weekly and fortnightly) that are currently in use. The Regional committee also recently received a powerpoint presentation outlining the services aims and preferred option of a monthly pay frequency with a payment date at the end of the month facilatating what the service describe as payment in “real time” i.e. members would be paid for the work they have done during the previous weeks in any month. Our view is that this is effectively payment in arrears and it is apparent that where a monthly pay frequency is in place it is common for employers to pay this partly in advance and partly in arrears .
We have informed the service that the formal FBU position in relation to this following consultation with members is that we maintain the current pay frequency arrangements for our members as far as possible i.e.
Monthly payment for those who are currently paid in this manner and for the continuation of fortnightly payment for all other members. We are supportive of the harmonisation of current pay cycles to either 1 or preferably 2 pay runs (monthly and fortnightly with those paid 4 weekly given the option to move to either frequency) to reduce costs and provide consistency, provided acceptable arrangements can be agreed to ensure no members are financially disadvantaged as a consequence of their pay date requiring to be altered. We believe this can also be provided at a reduced cost to the second option outlined below and have requested comparative costings for this, that have not yet been provided.
If the SFRS reject this option and are insistent on moving to a single pay cycle for all staff then our proposal is for a move to a fortnightly pay cycle for all provided acceptable arrangements can be agreed to ensure no members are financially disadvantaged as a consequence of their pay date requiring to be altered. We believe the best means of facilitating this is for a “neutral” payment model to be agreed and implemented for this based on paying a week in advance and a week in arrears.
We have been unable to agree a way forward with the service and following consideration of the differing positions it was agreed that the service would provide information to members over the reasons they wished to introduce monthly pay.
This we have been advised is primarily about maximising the savings from harmonisation by having a single pay frequency that reduces the number of paydates a year to 12, in order to protect front line posts as far as possible by achieving savings via this process.
The information the service are now providing to staff also detail the arrangements they are proposing to ensure :
1. No member would be subjected to any financial detriment due to the pay gap that shall occurr during any transistion,
2. A frequently asked questions (FAQ’s) document to provide a response to the many concerns that we and our members have expressed .
3. A presentation to all watches/Groups to be conducted and all staff affected also being informed of and signposted to the dedicated intranet page on the HR payroll project page and information shall also be provided via the SFRS communication newsletteronce this has been completed. This we have been informed shall provide a dedicated inbox that permits members the opportunity to raise any practical concerns and also to inform the service of the reasons why a monthly pay frequency may be unacceptable to them. It can be found on the SFRS intranet at:
Sfrs human resources and payroll.gov.uk
4.. The FBU have also set up a dedicated online inbox to ensure members concerns can be collated. Comments and members concerns over monthly pay frequency can be posted to the following link:
Please note this shall remain open for comments until the 6th January 2015.
FBU Officials have been very clear over the issues that the proposed monthly pay model creates for our members and have outlined this comprehensively in meetings, formal letters and reports to the service. However the service clearly wish to proceed, following these discussions, by referring the matter to our members directly with the ability to return concerns as outlined. This recognises our disagreement over the service proposals while assuaging our continuing disagreement by providing a commitment to jointly review the outcome of the concerns expressed via the dedicated inbox and fbu online inbox. Following this the service shall then meet with the FBU to consider the numbers of members raising concerns and where applicable their reasons for rejecting the services proposed monthly Pay Frequency to determine if we can then reach agreement on the way forward.
A number of members and officials have expressed concerns that the revised FAQ’s appear to indicate that the service arrangements to implement the transition may result in members who require a loan to meet the pay gap suffering a financial detriment despite previous assurances that this will not happen in any circumstances. We have clarified this matter directly with the service and have been informed that only loans from an employer totalling £10,000 or more are considered a benefit in kind. Therefore there are no tax implications of accepting the maximum salary advance payment i.e. an intrest free loan, (repayable over a period of up to 18 months) as any loan shall be considerably less than this amount. We have also asked for an assurance that there would be no detrimental impact on pensions i.e. the calculation of pensionable pay for retiring members and the calculation of pensionable pay for all in respect of accrued benefits. We await a fomal response to this.
We need our members to be aware of the dedicated inbox for recording comments and to respond to this by raising any genuine concerns to demonstrate the degree of unnecesarry personal difficulties a monthly pay frequency may create and to outline their reasons for rejecting this where relevant (particularly bearing in mind the services preferred model of paying “in real time” and in our view, effectively a month in arrears, requiring a loan to tide members over for potentially up to 5 weeks) otherwise the service are likely to claim this is not a significant issue for our members. It should be emphasised that we have been informed that RDS members shall receive only their retaining fee at the end of the current working month and that the service are proposing that payment for turn outs and other work activity would not be made until the end of the next pay period meaning in effect they may be waiting up to 8 weeks to receive these payments. We have informed the service that this is unacceptable to us and our RDS members and we also await a response to this.
If the review indicates only relatively small numbers of our members have registered their concerns it may be the service may then conclude that there is no justifiable reasons not to implement a monthly pay frequency. It has been concerning that some SFRS communications appear to indicate that monthly pay frequency shall proceed regardless of any concerns we or our members have or may express over this. I would therefore urge all members who perceive they shall be negatively affected to respond to the FBU dedicated inbox and also to the inbox to be provided on the SFRS HR Payroll Intranet site to registerany concerns you may have. Your assistance in this matter is very much appreciated and please do all you can to highlight the need to respond in this way to all the members at your branch who perceive they may be negatively affected. I would again urge your branch to meet to discuss this and other ongoing matters and request an FBU Regional or District Official attend where possible.
Members shall be kept updated on developments.