Published November 27, 2017 at 10:37
Re Pay Rationalisation
By now all affected staff will have received a letter stating that their pay date will change and that everybody will be paid on 27th of the month (or the last banking day prior to it). For those currently paid at the end of the month the move to the 27th is not that big a change and UNISON has received no feedback from these members to suggest it is a problem. However for those currently paid mid month (the 15th of the month) this is a substantial change in circumstances.
The letter from the Council states that in February 2018 all staff will be paid on 27th of the month. Those paid on 15th of the month will receive their pay as normal on 15th January 2018 and then will not be paid again until 27th February 2018 – this means no pay for 6 weeks! This could present real hardship to members who are struggling after years of real terms pay cuts. Then there is the inconvenience of having to change your financial arrangements and direct debits which in some cases will incur a cost. Will utility companies be sympathetic and willing to wait 6 weeks until you are paid? Also the Council actually benefits by retaining 2 weeks pay for affected employees as these staff are being paid later.
UNISON have raised members’ concerns with the employer but we feel the Council have more or less ignored them and now the employer intends to force a change of pay date onto staff regardless. UNISON acknowledge that having one pay date is more efficient for many payroll related reasons however if the date had not been changed in the first place through Capita’s involvement then there wouldn’t be this problem now. The feedback received from members was clear that members preferred to retain their current pay date.
The Council had sought to implement the change by agreeing collectively with the Trade Unions through what is known as a collective agreement – this is a legal way of implementing the changes. However given the feedback from members the Trade Unions asked the employer for some incentive for members to change pay date – this was point blank refused. The Trade Unions felt it only fair that if staff were being asked to give up something that the Council should give something in return. For example in other employers where the pay date has been changed there have been buyouts, a day off given to staff to sort out direct debits and assurances that any costs/charges incurred by making the change would be met by the employer. Given the point blank refusal to discuss options the Trade Unions informed the employer that there would be no collective agreement.
Following this the Trade Unions had a further meeting with the Council where it was proposed to improve the support available by offering loans to alleviate any financial difficulties. The Trade Unions carried out a consultative ballot with affected members who overwhelmingly rejected the change of pay date.
The Council has now written to individual staff members stating that the pay date will change whether you agree or not. In response the Trade Unions have had little choice but to invoke the “failure to agree” procedure under the terms of reference of our local bargaining arrangements. We also have set out some advice and guidance to members on where they stand with this change of pay date.
The Trade Unions argue that being paid on 15th of the month is a contractual term and cannot be varied without your agreement – in other words you can refuse to change your pay date. There are differing wordings used in staff contracts about the pay date;
- “Your salary is paid on 15th of the month” – the meaning here is obvious;
- “You are paid two weeks in advance and two weeks in arrears” – again this is clear that you are paid on 15th of the month;
- “You are paid monthly” (but you have always been paid on 15th of the month) – the employer suggests that this means they can vary your pay date without agreement. However if you have always been paid on 15th of the month then your pay date is arguably contractual by custom and practice because it is certain and notorious that you are paid on 15th of the month and you always have been.
If you wish to change your pay date to 27th of the month then you simply accept the Council’s letter and you do nothing. Whether it is a breach of your contract or not by doing nothing and not objecting to the change you are in effect agreeing the change to your contract.
If you do not wish to change your pay date to 27th of the month then you need to formally object to the change and raise a grievance. A template is provided to assist members doing this and we advise that you to do this as it is the best way to protect your position at this point in time.
We do need to advise that the Council disagree with the union position and have clearly stated that they believe this is a change they are able to make without agreement of the unions and staff affected. This poses the question that if the Council believed that it could unilaterally change your pay date without your consent then there would have been no requirement to ask the Trade Unions for a collective agreement.
We will be taking further advice on this and will keep you posted.
For more information or if you have any queries then please contact Denise Wilkins or Paul Crewe at the Branch office 01254 585220.