Cafcass staff overwhelmingly reject 2.5% pay offer but government says no scope for improved deal

Unions enter talks with management mediated by conciliation service, but Ministry of Justice says family courts body will not get increased pay remit with which to improve offer

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Cafcass staff have overwhelmingly rejected a 2.51% pay offer for 2022-23, but the government has said there is no scope for the family courts body to improve it.

Napo and UNISON said 97.7% and 93.3% of their members, respectively, rejected the offer in a consultative ballot that closed last week.

They have now triggered the next stage of the employment disputes procedure at the family court body, involving further talks with Cafcass managers, mediated by the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).

No increase in pay limit 

These are likely to prove fruitless, however, as the Ministry of Justice (MoJ) has said that it will not lift a 3% limit on the amount by which Cafcass may increase its overall pay bill during 2022-23, preventing it from offering more.

The unions have asked to meet justice minister Lord Bellamy to discuss the dispute and, in particular, raise the issue of how far Cafcass’s offer falls short of the £1,925 rise given council social workers in England and Wales.

This would be worth 4% to 5% for a family court adviser, up to double what Cafcass is currently offering.

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Napo general secretary Ian Lawrence said: “The situation is bleak. We recognise the constraints on the employer, but I don’t believe the government has been giving our members a fair hearing regarding the social worker pay settlement [for councils] in England and Wales.

‘Government must wake up and listen’

“We are entering the ACAS talks with an open mind. We have, through goodwill, not taken a decision regarding a potential industrial action ballot. I don’t want to get to that stage. Our members are acutely aware of the difficulties children and families are facing.

“The government needs to wake up and listen.”

Lawrence said that Bellamy’s office had acknowledged unions’ request to meet and has promised a reply.

A Ministry of Justice spokesperson said: “Cafcass plays a vital role ensuring children’s voices are at the heart of the family court and we will work with them to support staff in any way we can beyond the pay offer, which is in line with what the rest of the civil service has received.”

The MoJ said it was sympathetic to the pay dispute and that its officials were committed to supporting Cafcass develop a future business case for a better offer for staff, in a likely reference to the 2023-24 pay round.

Cafcass said it was unable to comment at this stage.

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One Response to Cafcass staff overwhelmingly reject 2.5% pay offer but government says no scope for improved deal

  1. John December 21, 2022 at 10:49 pm #

    Don’t need cafcass any way. They are waste of time and cause more issues with family proceedings. Think it’s time government had a shake up got rid of cafcass and brought in something new