Public sector pay policy for staff pay remits 2019-2020: technical guide

Supports the application of the 2019-2020 public sector pay policy and applies to staff in the Scottish Government and its associated departments, agencies, non-departmental public bodies (NDPBs) and public corporations.

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5. Pay Discussions and Negotiations

When should a public body engage with its trade union(s)?

5.1 The policy encourages all public bodies to have constructive and collaborative pay discussions with their relevant trade union(s) on the development of their overall pay and reward strategies prior to submitting their assessment proforma and where necessary their remit for formal approval.

5.2 However, while informal discussions can take place, public bodies must not enter into formal negotiations with their trade union(s) until their remit has been formally approved. Trade unions should note that points considered in informal discussions cannot be treated as agreed until the public body's pay remit is approved.

5.3 The approved pay remits sets out the public body's maximum negotiating position within the pay policy limits, taking account of affordability and sets the parameters for detailed negotiations with their recognised trade union(s).

5.4 If during pay discussions or negotiations any points arise regarding the application of the pay policy, public bodies and/or their Trade Unions are encouraged to speak with the Finance Pay Policy team in the first instance to help provide clarification.

What is the policy on legal commitments?

5.5 Approval of pay remits is on the basis that a public body does not enter into any legally-binding contractual agreements in trade union negotiations that effectively commits it to automatic costs in the future (i.e. beyond the duration of the approved remit).

5.6 All existing legally-binding commitments should take into consideration affordability and potential financial constraints in current and future years. All public bodies are advised to take legal advice on the drafting of pay commitments to ensure these are affordable and consistent with the pay remit process.

Can a public body make changes to its approved remit during negotiations?

5.7 If, during negotiations, a public body is considering: entering into an agreement that exceeds the key pay metric percentages approved in its remit; or deviates substantially from the basis of approval (such as the pay structure proposed) then the public body will need to contact the Finance Pay Policy team in the first instance. As a result, it may need to revise its proposals and seek further approval from the Scottish Government. Changes proposed within the limits approved are a normal part of negotiations and need not be referred for further approval unless they are considered novel or contentious.

5.8 Where a public body proposes to make any changes to its existing pay and grading structure, or any of its terms and conditions, at any time during the year and had not included the detail within the pay remit, they should contact the Finance Pay Policy team to discuss. The team will be able to advise if the changes require formal approval from the Scottish Government. Failure to notify the Finance Pay Policy team will result in the public body's outturn being rated Red when considered as part of the following year's pay remit process and may result in further action as set out in paragraphs 6.3 to 6.5.



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