Council withdraws from national agreement on social worker pay

Local authority's plans to introduce local pay reviews will worsen recruitment and retention problems in social work, warn unions.

A council has decided to withdraw from the national agreement that sets minimum entitlements for local authority social workers’ pay, terms and conditions.

The move comes two years after London’s Bromley Council was lauded for offering its children’s social workers bonuses of up to £2000 per worker as a recruitment and retention strategy.

Union leaders have warned this week’s decision to withdraw from the national agreement will shatter attempts to retain social workers who will start looking for work in other councils, uncertain of their future terms and conditions under Bromley.

“It means social workers will no longer have that minimum amount of protection and the council has so far not given a single guarantee that terms and conditions will not worsen,” she said.

Under the plans, from next year, the council will cease to be bound by the annual pay negotiations governing council staff in England, Wales and Northern Ireland, and introduce local pay reviews. It will also introduce a discretionary scheme to reward “exceptional performance” through non-pensionable extra payments to staff and withhold pay increases from “under performing staff”.

“This means if people are poorly managed they could soon find themselves in a very difficult situation,” Reynolds warned.

In a paper to this week’s full council meeting, the council said the changes would make it more able to respond to local circumstances and cost pressures in the pay review process.

Bromley will also be withdrawing from national or regional agreements covering sick pay and leave, maternity and adoption leave and pay, car mileage rates, sleep-in allowances and industrial injury allowances, but has pledged to retain these terms and conditions as they currently are.

It said: “The council has no desire to offer less competitive terms and conditions to staff now or in the future and thus lose its competitive advantage in the labour markets. We will always monitor and consider benchmark data in local, regional and national markets in order to ensure the right rate is being paid for the right job at the right time.”

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