Market Factor Supplements For Council Staff To Be Made Removable

town hall windows signControversial market factor supplements paid to Isles of Scilly Council workers could soon be reviewed on a six monthly basis after members of the Policy and Resources committee agreed a new policy.

The supplements were first recommended two years ago as a way to recruit and retain talented staff and given to the former chief executive and his management team in May 2010.

They were supposed to be reviewable on an annual basis but subsequent advice from Cornwall’s head of legal affairs, Richard Williams, suggested that removal of the payments without the officers’ consent could be subject to challenge at a tribunal.

The payments were finally absorbed into the chief officers’ pay packets following a decision in secret session by councillors last April.

At yesterday’s special Policy and Resource meeting, Cllr Richard McCarthy welcomed the new policy, which would require all staff receiving a supplement to sign a contract saying it will be reviewed yearly and could be withdrawn completely.

But he felt it was three years too late.

Richard said if something similar had been in place in 2010, there wouldn’t have been the “ramshackle” introduction of the supplements for chief officers and other staff, put through in less than a week on the advice of a consultant that he alleged was “rather misguided.”

He said councillors were told payments were removable and they turned out not to be, and that they weren’t pensionable and that turned out to be wrong too.

But members at the meeting wanted changes made to the policy, written by Russell Symons from South West Councils.

Richard asked for the P&R committee to ratify any supplement awards in the future. And he wanted the policy to apply to all staff, adding that the chief officers felt like an “afterthought” in the document.

Cllr Dudley Mumford was concerned that the senior management team would make the final decision on the supplements. He said elected members should have input.

And he felt there should be a six-month review, not yearly.

But Dudley was also worried about the legality of the contract and whether the relevant unions, who are mentioned in the document, had been consulted.

Chair, Amanda Martin said she assumed Mr Symons had done that.

Dudley said it had been a “rocky road” and they’d come unstuck several times in the past three years. He felt they should double check that everything was “squeaky clean” with South West Councils.

Cllr David Pearson said they’d need to be quick as Russ Symons was about to retire.

Councillors approved the policy in principle, with the added amendments.

It will now need to go to Full Council for final approval.