‘How do I motivate my team given they face a pay cut?’

How can I motivate my team which is being forced to take a pay cut?

Q:  I manage an older people’s services team in a local authority which has just undergone a single status pay review to streamline pay and conditions over the next three years. The upshot is that most people are being forced to take a pay cut, and feel insulted by senior management. Although they may sign the contract, they will probably start looking for other jobs. How can I motivate my team when I agree with everything they are saying?

A: Single status pay and grading reviews – where they are executed properly – are delivering significant increases in basic pay for many mainly female workers in previously undervalued jobs such as those in social care.

The outcome described by the reader is unexpected and needs to be investigated. It could be that an aspect of the job has been undervalued and the job evaluation score should be appealed against. Alternatively, the employer may be trying to implement single status at low or nil cost or even make savings by depressing the pay line so that equal pay is achieved by levelling down. This results in many staff, including women, taking substantial pay cuts while other women enjoy minimum pay improvement. Such action is short-sighted because people will leave.

The reader should advise her team to contact their trade union for advice and assistance. Each Unison branch is backed up by a team of pay experts and lawyers who check single status pay and grading proposals to achieve the maximum benefit for members. Unison would not accept a package that is under-funded and does not comply with equal pay principles. If after investigation it turns out that there is a genuine reason for the pay drop, the union would look to negotiate a lawful period of protected salary to cushion the blow.

Helga Pile is the national officer for social workers at Unison

NEXT question:

“I am looking for an unqualified social work position where, hopefully, I can be sponsored to study social work while working. I have experience of voluntary work with children in care and spent time in care myself as a young person. What options are available to me?”  Do you have any advice? If so, send it to us, please

Do you have your own career dilemma? Send your comments or questions to daniel.lombard@rbi.co.uk

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