Pensions: The original Amicus campaign on pensions has been enlarged into a joint TUC campaign for lobbying Westminster. It has been suggested that a similar lobby be carried out in Cardiff and Holyrood. These should take place early in 2005.
National Planning Framework (NPF): It was suggested that a special meeting of the Committee be held in January /February, inviting David Kerr to discuss the NPF.
Human Resource Forum (HRF): Little has been happening in the HRF. No decisions have been taken this year, as four out of five meetings were inquorate because of management side not turning up. At the fifth meeting, there were no decisions to be made. There is concern that the National Workforce Committee now has 12 subgroups but appears to be outwith the various partnership structures.
Agenda for Change:
SPRIG is now meeting weekly, but is finding it hard to meet the workload. SPRIG is a subgroup of the HRF and it has two subgroups of its own.
Michael Fuller identified three main immediate issues.
- Guidance Group on Terms and Conditions - to answer queries and the
- Policy Group on Terms and Conditions
- Recruitment and Retention Premia - It has been decided that SPRIG and the HRF will be the only ones to decide on RRPs. No Boards will have the ability to apply them. The meeting on 15th December will flesh out the proposed RRP document which will then go out to consultation. Once that is complete, it will be issued to the service as a final document to cover all aspects of RRPS.
It is likely to be the Policy subgroup which negotiates the amount of any RRP for a particular group of staff. It has been suggested that the use of short term RRPs will be limited, but this cannot be quantified until after matching. One criterion for application of RRP is that it must produce results. If there is a national shortage of a particular staff group and recruitment is likely to be impossible even with an RRP, then there is no point in applying one. SPRIG will impress on employers the data that needs to be collected to inform the process.
- Annual Leave (AL) and Public Holidays (PH) - Original SPRIG advice had been to delay the implementation of the new PH arrangements until after 1st April and to allow staff to carry over more AL than previously permissible on a one-off basis. By the time this proposal had reached the Minister, the employers group had approached SEHD separately to say they could not afford it. As a result, the Minister proposed that anyone gaining holidays under AfC should have one day AL deducted for the extra PH they had already received. In addition, only 50% of extra AL will be allowed to be carried into the next holiday year. SPRIG have written in the strongest terms to the Minister and staffside will not sign up to the proposal. It is likely to appear as a Ministerial letter to the service. Will you be affected?
- If you gain AL under AfC - Yes
- If you do not gain AL under AfC - No
- If you are on protected AL - No
Area Partnership Fora will decide the local distribution of the PHs. As doctors remain on 10 PHs, this is likely to cause problems for those staff dependent upon the presence of doctors to carry out their work.
Overtime and band 8 staff - This was raised at SPRIG by Michael Fuller in response to a proposed agreement in Argyll & Clyde which sought a guarantee that overtime paid to staff subsequently matched to band 8 would not be clawed back. Despite Michael’s attempts to get agreement on this, it was opposed by management side and some unions and has been argued over at every meeting since. The employers’ position is that local management have had plenty of time to deal with the problem. It was reported that at UK level, management had tried to get the clawback written into the AfC agreement but had been prevented from doing so by the unions. There is therefore no incentive to do it.
However, this does not change common law where the employer can only pay what it is legally allowed to pay. As payments to staff in band 8 are not allowable, they are classed as an overpayment and must be clawed back. The Minister has stated that any payments over and above AfC rates are illegal payments. This also means that inflated pay rates for waiting lists initiatives are also illegal.
If a union, or any representative of a union, signs off an agreement which attempts to guarantee no clawback of such overtime, and it is clawed back by the employer, the union is responsible and could be sued. Therefore Amicus cannot recommend that staff continue to work on the basis of overtime payments. The only recompense available to band 8 staff is time off in lieu. Paragraph 9.29 in the final agreement does not apply, as there is no transitional period. Pharmacists move to 37.5 hours immediately and cannot be required to work 39.
If there is any possible solution to the problem, it lies solely within the remit of the employers, SEHD and the Minister.
Agenda For Change
The most significant problem has been the refusal of SPRIG to consider that there is a problem in reducing pharmacists hours and their impression that it can be done without compromising services! The unhelpfulness of SPRIG in dealing with this has caused considerable anger amongst both members and Chief Pharmacists.
Association of Scottish Chief Pharmacists
I have attended two meetings of the Acute Group since the last Council meeting for discussions on Agenda for Change amongst other things. The main topics have been the reduction in hours and the question of whether time off in lieu counts as an overtime payment.
I had a separate meeting with two of the Primary Care Chief Pharmacists to discuss Agenda for Change and job descriptions and explain some of the discussions leading to the production of the national profiles.
4 February 2005