Chief Officers’ Temporary Bonuses Could Be Permanent

Council Chamber at the Old Wesleyan Chapel

The highest-earning Council staff could keep their salary bonuses permanently, even though many Councillors believed the market factor supplements would be discretionary and temporary.

Members have heard that the so-called ‘Scilly weighting’, which can boost some officers’ annual income by over £4500, may only be removed with the officers’ consent.

The advice from a panel of legal and human resources experts was delivered on a videolink from Truro during the Policy and Resources Council meeting.

Councillor Richard McCarthy said he was “frustrated and cross” by what he heard.

Richard claimed the pay panel convened by the Council had found no justification for continuing the bonus, which was introduced to retain and recruit staff.

The policy presented to members read, “In exceptional circumstances it may be necessary, to ensure the effective recruitment and retention of employees, to pay individuals and/or groups of employees a premium rate to reflect the market competitiveness of the job.”

Richard said Russell Symons, Director of South West Councils had told the pay panel that the local government job market “had in effect collapsed“ and there was no need for the pay boost with “tens of thousands” of local government jobs lost nationally.

Councillor McCarthy insisted that Cornwall Council’s legal expert, Richard Williams, put his opinion on the inability of the Council to remove the market factor supplement in writing.

Councillor McCarthy said he was unhappy at advice being offered verbally on repeated occasions.

He claimed members were originally told by HR and employment law experts that the bonuses would be reviewable in a year and could be withdrawn after that time.

Members had expected to remove them in a meeting before Christmas following a job role evaluation report, but that hadn’t materialized.

There had been “slippage after slippage” in the Council’s HR advice.

 

Market Supplement Could Be Pensionable

 

It’s emerged that the market factor supplement can be included when calculating an hourly rate for overtime pay and the extra amount will also count towards employee pension rights.

Scilly Councillors had previously been assured that the market factor supplement wouldn’t be pensionable and Richard said he had been told that couldn’t be applied retrospectively.

Councillor McCarthy also expressed concern that there were two levels of MFS being used to bolster the pay of sixteen Council employees.

In addition to the Chief Officer arrangements, the pay ceiling of some staff grades had been increased.

He was told that very few Cornwall staff are offered the supplements but they are looking at using it to recruit social workers

P&R Vice-chairman, David Pearson took over the meeting after Marian Bennett had to leave for another meeting. He used his casting vote to break the 3-3 deadlock on whether the experts’ report should be accepted.

He said he backed the report as a starting point for further discussion at the next meeting.

Members have also discussed their statutory obligation to publish pay packages for any employee earning over £50,000.

The data will have to include any payments in addition to regular salary, which is a cost to the ratepayer.

Councillor Amanda Martin said she welcomed “any light to be shone on the level of remuneration of officers” and she hoped that it would show “travel packages and perks.”

She said it was, “important so we can look our communities in the face.”

 



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