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Pay Policy

Under the Localism Act 2011, Section 38 (1), local authorities are required to publish a pay policy statement. Ashford Borough Council's Cabinet approved this on 28 May 2020 and Council adopted this on 16 July 2020.

Pay Policy Statement 2020/21

Introduction

ABC is a large and diverse organisation providing a range of statutory and other services to a local community with a population of 129,300. It is responsible for managing a combined annual capital and revenue spend of £183 million.

To ensure the council is effectively led and efficiently managed, it must be able to attract and retain a range of high calibre staff in a competitive job market. The value and composition of the remuneration package offered to senior staff is a key factor in enabling the council to attract, recruit, motivate and retain staff with the skills sets required to deliver the Council’s objectives and aspirations, which in turn have a significant impact on the lives of local residents.

Notwithstanding the statutory requirement to produce and publish this policy, the Council recognises the importance and benefits of applying a transparent policy to ensure that its staff are remunerated appropriately, equitably and legally.

Pay Policy

This policy statement is made in accordance with Section 38 (1) of the Localism Act 2011.  The Act requires the authority to set out its policies for the financial year relating to:

  • the remuneration of its chief officers,
  • the remuneration of its lowest-paid employees and
  • the relationship between:
    • the remuneration of its chief officers, and
    • the remuneration of its employees who are not chief officers.

Definitions

a. The Definition of ‘Chief Officer’ in the Localism Act reflects that in the Local Government and Housing Act 1989 and so is wide enough to include not only the Head of Paid Service, Monitoring Officer and other statutory and non-statutory Chief Officers but also those senior officers who report directly to them. It is not considered necessary to extend the scope of this definition due to any particular local circumstance or reward structure.

b. A ‘Lowest paid employee’ is an employee who is paid on the lowest pay grade used by the council.  The definition does not include postholders engaged in apprenticeships or other job creation schemes.

The policy statement will be reviewed and approved annually by Members and published on the transparency section of the Ashford Borough Council website together with the pay data published in line with the code of recommended practice on data transparency. Data on pay for individuals employed under a ‘contract for services’ (opposed to contract of employment) can be found under the data on spend.

The council’s pay framework has been in place for many years and the grade for each role is determined by a job evaluation scheme developed by Inbucon Pay Consultants.

The basic grade of all officers is determined by job evaluation process.  Pay and all other elements of the remuneration package for the Chief Executive (Head of Paid Service), Director or Head of Service posts are approved by Members as part of the recruitment process and other formal approval process such as restructuring reports. The remuneration packages for all other roles are approved by senior managers.

The incremental progression for all roles, including Chief Officer roles, are automatic unless there are formal concerns over capability.

Cost of living pay awards are considered on an annual basis and take account of market forces, economic climate measures of inflation and budgetary position. The council is not subject to national pay bargaining. Pay awards are negotiated locally with UNISON and subject to approval by Members.

The council is committed to ensuring that the pay of its employees can sustain families and individuals and underpin a thriving economy. To support this commitment it is the Council’s aim to provide its lowest paid employees (excluding apprentices and those referred to above at b) to receive a wage rate which is better than the Statutory National Living Wage rate irrespective of the age of the employee. As a consequence, the lowest paid employees receive the Ashford Living Wage Allowance (ALWA) as a supplement to the employee’s hourly pay rate to provide a minimum rate of £9.18 per hour. The Council reviews the application of the ALWA on an annual basis.

Apprentices are engaged to gain practical training in a job combined with study. The council is committed to making apprenticeships accessible to all and aims to pay a rate that is better than the respective Statutory National Living Wage and National Minimum Wage rates; the Ashford Apprentice Wage Allowance (AAWA) is currently set at 15 pence per hour higher than these rates. The AAWA is reviewed annually and applied to those employed by the Council on an apprenticeship.

Grades MG1 and MG2 have two additional discretionary incremental points that can be applied for recognition of performance, or as part of a retention package. These points are not automatically applied to all MG1 or MG2 roles, but if they are, they require confirmation from the officer’s manager that there has been exceptional performance and the increment should be awarded.

The organisation’s Returning Officer for elections receives election fees in addition to their regular salary.  These fees are set by the Cabinet Office for national elections and referendums; or for borough and county elections through a countywide arrangement.  The fees vary according to the election taking place. Any election fees paid during the year are included in the salary figure published in the council’s annual statement of accounts.

We are required to publish pay related information. This includes the Code of Recommended Practice for Local Authorities on Data Transparency requirements to publish a Pay Multiple and information on senior salaries.  The Pay Multiple is the ratio between the highest paid salary and the median average salary of the whole authority’s salaries.

The current ratio between the highest paid employee and the median earnings across the organisation is 4.7:1 (excluding Returning Officer fees as these are determined by the Cabinet Office, or though a countywide arrangement. The fees are only paid in the event of an election). The council intends to maintain a pay multiple of 5 or less i.e. the highest paid employee is paid no more than 5 times the median salary which is £26,898. The chart below shows the current dispersal of grades amongst the council’s employees.

Chart showing the number of staff that are at each salary grade

Ashford pay grades are determined through job evaluation and reflect the breadth of impact the role has for example: the level and complexity of advice given by the postholder as well as the decisions made; the qualifications required to carry out the role, the level of autonomy the postholder has as well as the level of internal and external contacts routinely made by the post-holder.

Salary information for senior staff is published annually on the transparency section of the council’s website and total remuneration packages for Chief Officers are published in the council’s annual statement of accounts also available on the council’s website.

The Chief Executive receives an annual mileage allowance to compensate for up to 3,000 work related miles travelled within Kent and is not allowed to submit mileage claims for the first 3,000 miles travelled in Kent.

Posts may attract a subsidised lease car or cash alternative.  Entitlement is usually determined as part of the recruitment process and the entitlement is intended to assist the officer in carrying out their duties or, in some cases, as a recruitment tool.

All officers are entitled to be reimbursed for legitimate expenses incurred in the course of their duties.  Limits are laid out in the conditions of service and all expense claims must be accompanied by receipts.

The council does not have a performance related pay scheme or a bonus scheme. Managers do have the ability to make honorarium payments to any level officer in the following circumstances:

  • Covering the full/partial duties of a more senior post (other than for annual leave)
  • Taking on additional duties/responsibilities for a limited period
  • Taking on additional responsibilities e.g. project work which would not normally fall within the employee’s job description
  • Taking on additional workload, which is not at an additional level of responsibility but which warrants financial recognition
  • One-off merit payments in recognition of exceptional performance.

Where the request for the payment falls outside of the above criteria the Head of HR and Customer Services will take the request to Management Team for discussion. 

The council does have a market supplement scheme to address market pressures that cause recruitment and retention difficulties.  Market supplements are applied in exceptional circumstances and any proposed payments for a Management Team post must be approved by Members. For all other roles Management Team is able to give approval.

If a Chief Officer, or any other officer, chooses to end their employment with the authority there are no termination benefits payable. 

If the council terminates an officer’s employment then the council’s policy on the Local Government (Early Termination of Employment) (Discretionary Compensation) Regulations 2006 may apply. 

The Council will comply with obligations under the Exit Payment Recovery Regulations.

Officers may also be entitled to release of their local government pension if they satisfy the Local Government Pension Scheme (Benefits, Membership and Contributions) Regulations 2007.

Employees who are Local Government Pension Scheme members aged 55 or over are entitled to request flexible retirement in accordance with the council’s Flexible Retirement policy. This allows an officer to access their local government pension and continue working in a role at either reduced hours or in a lower paid role to help their transition into retirement. Member approval is required where there is a cost associated with the release of the pension.   There must be a benefit to the council in agreeing to a flexible retirement request, the benefits may include: assisting with succession planning, delivering savings etc. 

In exceptional circumstances we may find ourselves in the situation whereby an officer who has been previously employed by the council (or another authority) and who, on ceasing to be employed, was in receipt of a redundancy payment and/or a local government pension is subsequently reemployed by the council. It is not the policy of Kent County Council (the pension scheme administrators) to abate pensions in payment in these circumstances.

In cases where the council shares staff with other authorities/agencies this often results in different pay scales, terms and conditions between the two parties. The council will ensure that for staff employed by Ashford Borough Council that there is internal comparability.  This may result in discrepancies across teams with employees working for other employers.

The council does not intervene in the pay policy of external contractors; remuneration packages are a matter for the external contractor to determine not the council.

The Council is committed to tackling all forms of tax avoidance and therefore encourages the direct employment of staff and pays them via the payroll system. When a need arises for a temporary appointment, recruitment is normally secured by using the council’s employment agency contract arrangement. In a few circumstances where it is necessary to engage self employed people who can provide exceptional skills/experience, the council will offer a contract for services. Such engagements would be in accordance with HMRC guidelines to ensure that the correct employment status has been applied for PAYE purposes.

This policy is required to be reviewed at least once a year proceeding the next financial year. Proposals to adjust the policy in a financial year must be approved by Members.

February 2020

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