General News, Articles and Information from The POA North of the Border:


Bankers' Pay and Bonuses

Colleagues, most of you will be aware that in 2009 the SPS implemented a new Retention and Recruitment Allowance (RRA) for operational jobs in Pay Bands H and I. At Scottish Conference 2011, the following motion was submitted by the Shotts Branch and passed.

Motion 42/2011

‘To recognise our members’ abhorrence of the excessive recruitment and retention packages given to some senior managers within the SPS. Further, our members are outraged at the fact that this package is by all accounts a nonconsolidated, pensionable lump sum. It is in the public interest to urgently establish a Government led investigation into the legality and ethics of such an undertaking by the senior managers of the SPS - especially at a time of efficiency driven savings and cost cutting exercises. We therefore call upon the SNC to canvas the Finance Minister to investigate this matter.’

As you would expect, communication has now been forwarded to ministers from the Scottish National Committee. Where exactly this will lead I am unsure. However, as a result of a Freedom of Information request I am able to give you an update on how this came about.

In doing so I do not intend to embellish the structure of the information, given by way of a ‘Brief on the Payment of Recruitment and Retention Allowances (RRAs) for Operational Jobs in Pay Band H and I’, just to make it look bad, what you will see is the actual make up of the business case from which you can make your own determinations. Please note that the briefing paper is in regard to the year of implementation, 2009.

The Briefing Paper has eight headings on which a question and answer case appears to have been applied. The text written in italics is directly lifted from the Briefing Paper. I have added a comment or two after this which addresses some, but definitely not all of our concerns, beliefs, feelings and/or perspectives to the motivation for ‘awarding this additional wage’.


Payment of Recruitment & Retention Allowance (RRAs) For Operational Jobs in Pay Band H and I.


1. Q. What is the purpose of this brief ?
• A. To provide background with regard to this issue following previous discussion and correspondence and the SPS’s decision to go ahead with the payment of an RRA to those in the above jobs.

There’s not much to comment on here other than to confirm that it was the SPS’s decision to award the RRA. (It should also be noted that the Freedom of Information request does not appear to have resulted in any of the previous discussions and correspondence being disclosed).

2. Q. What is a summary of the position?
• A. The issues have been raised in various TUS/Management forums over the past year, and so there is a reasonable amount of familiarity with regard to the issues. SPS Management has consulted with the TUS, received its views, further reviewed the evidence base and has now implemented an approach.

The case for the RRA will follow however what this appears to be saying is that Management have consulted with the TUS over a year and sought its views. The views are not documented here, however I’d imagine that if the TUS had supported this then SPS Management would have made this clear. In the absence of this I’ll let you make what you want from the statement: ‘SPS Management has consulted with the TUS, received its views, further reviewed the evidence base and has now implemented an approach.’

Jobs affected

1. Q. How many jobs are affected?
• A. This is yet to be confirmed and is awaiting confirmation from relevant Directors which staff members within their Directorate meet the qualification criteria.

I’d like to mention two points here although this question does raise more. The SPS appears to have committed itself to a cost from within its budget without having the knowledge of how much this might be. Similarly why would the SPS be considering who might meet a qualification criteria after the RRA has been implemented? This makes me wonder why it would carry out a defined course of action without knowing what exactly that might be or how much it would cost.

2. Q. What is the qualification criteria?
• A. The qualification criteria is that the staff member is a Pay Band H or I staff member who is currently either:
i. Employed in a senior operational manager post in an SPS prison
ii. Employed in a post out with an SPS prison establishment where senior
operational management experience is clearly defined as a requirement of
the job role or person specification; or
iii. Employed in a non-operational role on assignment but with an explicit understanding that they may at any time be assigned back to an SPS prison establishment to carry out a senior operational management role at Pay Band H or Pay Band I.

That makes perfect sense to me, it’s as many as we can get. Apologies that may not be the case, but it is what many people think, a clearer understanding is in the next question. What is clear however is that this answer is unclear, as is evidenced by the SPS as they were still unsure how many jobs would be affected.

3. Q. What jobs are these?
• A. The great majority are Governor in Charge or Deputy Governor in Charge jobs or jobs occupied by individuals in H or I Band in other roles but whose career role is as a governor.

I may not be alone here but it was my impression that only H and I Deputy and Governors where included, it appears they are only the majority. The other obvious point is covered in the next question.

4. Q. Why should people who were Governors but not currently in Governor in Charge / Deputy roles just now receive an RRA?
• A. On occasion individuals may be required by SPS to carry out alternative roles for which their background as a Governor is extremely valuable and / or which may be developmental. Not to pay an RRA in those circumstances would mean that these roles would not be attractive and Governors would not wish to move into or stay in them when the Governor job pays more. That would mean a loss to the service resulting from being unable to deploy those skills to those particular roles or encourage development opportunity in other roles.

That was quite a long answer to get a point across, what of an alternative though? In instances when Governors are required to work elsewhere as a result of their background or for development and to ensure the service does not lose out, why not continue the theme. Allocate a suitably experienced and skilled individual into the vacant Governors role for the time period they would be employed elsewhere. The bonus of this is that someone else is being developed in role on an acting up basis. There are other benefits associated to this for the SPS, one may be the need for fewer senior managers, and another of great benefit would be the up-skilling of individuals and a greater pool of competent staff that the SPS would be able to draw from.

5. Q. What about people who are approaching (or are already beyond) pension age of 60? Will they be treated in the same way as those who are not?
• A. Yes, otherwise it is likely that there would be discrimination on the grounds of age.

I’m not a lawyer so if this is right fill your boots. What a lucky position to be in though, considering it has the potential to equate to a difference in take home pension of over £4k a year.

6. Q. Will new people joining the service or promoted from a lower Pay Band into an operational H or I Band job receive an RRA?
• A. Yes in order to ensure consistency of treatment and to provide the right incentive for people with the right qualities to join us.

I’m not sure about incentives but at the time an I Band could expect to get £66k a year and a final salary pension with the potential to be over £30k and H Band, £55k and over £27k, that’s not a bad incentive, or am I going aff ma nut?

At this point colleagues, I’m going to beg forgiveness for I have only tackled two of the eight points in the brief, however I’m sure this is enough for now to increase your understanding.

The other six points raised are:

• Reasons for intervening
• Evidence of turnover and difficulties in recruitment
• Evidence of pay rates being insufficient to attract enough suitable candidates
• How SPS rates compare with others elsewhere
• Consequential issues and
• Other issues.

Worry not though; it’s the number of words that needs to be attached to this that requires another article, hopefully in the next issue of Gatelodge and a wee bit more research.

Tony Quinn