Reps Briefing Pay 2019

This is a detailed briefing for Reps to use in discussions with members about Pay 2019.  There is also a “Pay FAQ” document hoping to provide answers to the commonly asked questions.  There is an overlap of information between this document and the FAQ document.


Pay in the Civil Service is negotiated separately for each department; but not separated further within departments other than where some areas are covered by a separate pay review body.  So the pay settlement is for the whole of the Home Office, excluding Senior Civil Service which has a different arrangement, and the Police.

Until 2013 Home Office staff benefited from a pay agreement which included a contractual right to pay progression.  In 2011 and 2012 the department attempted to end that and both times the ISU, with FDA and Prospect, brought legal claims to protect the rights of members. By 2013 Home Office made a pay offer which brought contractual pay progression to an end.  PCS accepted the initial offer but FDA and ISU members voted against it.  An improved offer was secured and on the second ballot the majority of members voted to accept the offer and end contractual pay progression.

Since that time there has been no right to pay progression at all, something keenly felt by staff retaining legacy allowances.  Civil Service pay restraint has been in place since 2010 and limited pay rises to an average of 1%.

How the pay deal is calculated.

Every year the Treasury sets a remit for Government departments.  This covers the amount the Treasury will fund (usually 1%), the options which departments might use to try to fund further rises and an absolute cap.  Departments can make a business case to Treasury to allow a higher rise specifically to achieve Civil Service Modernisation; for example this is what happened in 2013 when the offer was raised to buy out the right to pay progression.  Departments can also fund a level of additional rise from internal saving, from restructuring other non-contractual elements of reward etc.

Once the overall budget is reached Departmental side negotiators with the Departmental Board set the priorities.  In Home Office this tends to focus on minimum wage compliance and on shortening the pay ranges for EO to G6.  There is also a spotlight on seeking to address the huge range of allowances available.

Negotiations begin.

In strict technical terms this is in fact a consultation as there is no longer any requirement for a Trade Union to accept the pay offer; as long as there are no detrimental changes to contract.  The right to strike is maintained of course, but with the ISU rarely used and other unions were not able to obtain the threshold for action.

The Department met with the ISU back in February to hear what priorities we put on the Pay round.  Some of this is entirely predictable – we need a pay rise of at least 8 – 10% to make up for the year on year real time loss for example.  We ask for that, but we also accept the reality that HO must work within the Treasury remit and sums like that are just not on the table.  We also focus on the proper reward for staff in operational arm so we look for things like uplifts to AHW percentages, TCA and HRA, lifting overtime caps etc.  This year we also sought a more equitable and suitable means of rewarding staff for shift work. 

The Treasury Remit is received usually around financial year end.  This goes to the board and finally comes out to the Trade Unions in the form of a draft Offer.  The ISU team met with HO on several occasions through June and July.  We asked for various permutations to be modelled – this means applying different calculations to the pay data to see what the result is.  For example we looked at the impact on shortening the ranges to 13% or 14%.  We look at what will benefit the majority of our membership the most and feed that preference back to the department who either accept it or not.

During this time the details are held strictly as negotiations in confidence.  This enables the Department and Trade Unions to explore various options freely.  At this point only the ISU NEC is aware of the details.

The offer arrives

Once the negotiation phase concludes a formal offer is made to the Trade Unions and published to staff within hours.  There is then a 28 day phase where Unions can meet with their members to discuss the offer. 

And it is paid…

The Common date for the CS pay round is 1st July.  This date is almost never met usually because of delays either in receiving the remit at all or in the Board making their decisions.  Where the payment date is later the offer is “backdated” – the sums missed from preceding months paid all in one go.  The aim is to pay this in the October salaries.


What this specific offer means….

There are 3 main elements to this offer, and the order in which they are applied makes a difference to the sum eventually received.  We will look at each stage in detail.

Spot rate vs range?

For ISU members base pay is either a spot rate (AAs and AOs) or a range (EOs and above.)  There are some ISU members on specialist pay ranges, for example Scientific Officers in the Finger Print Bureaus.

As part of the 2013 pay deal AAs and AOs moved to a single spot rate (albeit split into 3 pay bands – see later.).  There is no range of salaries, nothing to move through.  Only one single rate.

This wasn’t available for the grades above, predominantly because of the merger with HMRC whose staff were on a significantly higher base salary.  So grades EO – G6 have a pay range.  You normally enter this range at the bottom and through incremental pay rises move gradually to the top.  To encompass the wide range of base points some of these ranges were very long indeed so during the last 6 years efforts have been made to shorten them.  Overly long pay ranges are vulnerable to allegations of age discrimination unless there are measures in place to address them.

And pay bands?

There are 3 separate pay bands; a practice which arose after 2013 when what was then London Location Allowance, and other location allowances, were consolidated into base pay.  The ranges are London, Provincial and National.  Staff who work within the London / greater London area are on London band.  Staff who work very close to London but not quite are on the Provincial band and everyone else on National.

There are always arguments for staff who work in other equally expensive metropolitan areas such as Manchester to receive their own variation recognising this.  However that debate is outside the scope of this briefing.


The first step

The first step in this pay round is to apply a 1%  base increase to almost everyone – omitting only the staff retaining legacy allowances and some specialist pay ranges.   This is a consolidated increase so everyone eligible gets it, it forms part of your base pay and is pensionable.

The second and third steps

The next two steps are interlinked and although applied sequentially one cannot really stand without the other.   This is what is termed range shortening and so applies only to grades EO and above.

To shorten the ranges, the bottom of the range is raised whilst the top stays still.  Given the 1% consolidated rise across the board, the bottom of the range must rise by more than 1% to cause the range to shorten.  But if you just hike up the bottom point you end up with staff who have only just been recruited being paid the same as staff who have been in service for some years.  (This happened in 2006 and caused no end of upset…)  So the uplift is applied incrementally with everyone shifting up a little bit, more at the bottom and less at the top – a bit like a folding blind. So staff at the lower end of the ranges receive more.  Staff already at the top of the rage receive nothing more than the base 1% uplift.

The catch up

If after all that there are staff who have not received a 2% rise (so for example BFOs / IOs at the top of their scale) they will receive the remainder of the award as a non-consolidated lump sum.  This is a one off payment of the average award value which is non pensionable.

The excluded staff

Staff on AAA/SDA are treated differently.  Because they have been excluded from the pay round for so long there were quite a number who had fallen below the minimum for their salary range as those ranges were gradually shortened.  As a result of ISU pressure those staff will be brought up to the range minimum; that increase is consolidated and therefore pensionable.  This is the first rise in pensionable pay these staff have had since 2015.

In the 2018 pay round the ISU were able to secure the considerable victory that the equivalent pay award received by the rest of the service would be paid as a non-consolidated lump sum to staff retaining legacy allowances.  This was not far enough and long overdue but it was at least a gesture of good will as we then anticipated being able to go into formal negotiation over revised shift pay arrangements.  Although this negotiation did not happen as expected it is still anticipated for 2020 and so the ISU’s 2018 position was maintained, and actually improved with bringing staff who had fallen below the range minimum being uplifted. 

There are other staff not part of the ISU core membership who remain excluded because they have opted to remain on legacy terms and conditions.  Reps are not likely to encounter any affected individuals but it is worth noting that this is a favourable position which the ISU alone has been able to secure.

Other allowances?

At this time the other allowances common across the business remain untouched, but the Department has signalled their wish to address a range of allowances including language allowance (they have been saying that since 1998!), TCA, HRA etc.  The ISU continues to press for suitable reward for the difficult nature of the work of our members, including shifts but also the specialist skills required and the environments in which we work.

Shift working allowances, legacy or not, are percentage based so there is a ripple on effect from any consolidated pay rise.  The 1% increase in base pay is then also reflected in the percentage calculation for AHW, AAA, SDA etc.

The Details.

There is a calculator on Horizon which will provide an indication to individual members of what this award means to them.  There are detailed tables included within the Formal pay offer (also on Horizon) showing the full rates and ranges and some tables within the FAQ document showing the same data from different perspectives.  The ISU is not licensed or insured to provide individual financial advice so as reps we cannot calculate what the offer means to an individual – they need to access the calculator to do that for themselves.  However there are some highlights worth mentioning.

AO spot vs EO range

An anomaly had arisen over the last couple of years as AA and AO spot rates were increased significantly to meet future minimum wage requirements.  An AO on the London range was (and in some cases still is) paid more than an EO on the provincial or national ranges.  To start to try to address this EO provincial base point has been increased significantly.  The Assistant Scientific Officer spot rate however still remains massively out of step – still exceeding the maximum of the EO London range.

The average award for AO / AIO members is £304 as a consolidated amount with a top up of £129.

The average award for a BFO/IO/EO is £498 consolidated with a top up of £81; but staff at the minimum of the range could receive up to £668 consolidated (with no top up as this is 2.8 – 3.5%)

The average award for an HO/CIO/HEO is £687 consolidated and ££49 top up.  Again those at the minimum of the pay range benefitting most with an average award of £847 (2.1 – 2.8%)

The average for SO/SEO/HMI members is £829 with £73 top up.  Those at the bottom of the range will receive an  average of £1.071 (also 2.1 – 2.8%)

Holding meetings

Trade Unions are entitled to hold meetings of up to 30 minutes with staff to discuss this deal.  This is a Home Office wide provision and obviously more suited to desk based environments that the operational arm.  However members may well wish to avail themselves of this paid 30 minutes away from their desks.

There are a range of ways you can achieve this locally; you can use some or all of them as suits you personally.

Have an NEC member visit

You can ask an NEC member to attend your port for a few hours to deliver pay briefings.  (Unless there is good reason please choose the NEC member based closest to you to minimise ISU costs!).  Set a date between you and use posters and ISU distribution list to advertise the opportunity.  Your local staffing or planning team should be included and they will set aside a suitable location and ensure that staff are made available.  But do be reasonable in picking the dates / times to make it as easy as possible for managers to comply.

Hold an open surgery

You don’t have to have an NEC member to hold a surgery for members.  You might want to tack this on to a BEC meeting or you might prefer to choose a separate day.  Its easier if you share the load with more than one BEC member available.  Technically this is not something you can get facility time for; but we also recognise that where surgeries are made available there are often blocks of time when no-one comes to talk to you.  Discuss with your manager how best to merge official side back office type work with the unpaid facility time.

Speak to members individually

You can just talk to members as they are available, perhaps during meal breaks before or after shifts etc.  Just as you go about your normal duties.  You won’t be able to do the full formal style briefing but it is an opportunity to reach out and encourage members to learn more about what the pay deal means.  You could hand out this briefing document, or the FAQ document, or encourage them to look on the ISU website themselves.


There is an FAQ document prepared alongside this one.  It does cover some of the same ground as this document as well as a few other commonly asked questions.  If you have any re-occurring questions which are not covered please let Lucy Moreton know so the FAQ document can be updated.