HMRC forced to give junior staff pay increase to meet ‘National Living Wage’

12 Dec 2017

PCS demands that HMRC commits to becoming a real Living Wage Employer, as it is forced to give administrative assistant grade staff working outside London a supplementary pay increase to ensure the department complies with the government’s National Living Wage.

In April 2018, the statutory National Living Wage will rise from £7.50 an hour to £7.83 an hour. PCS is clear that this situation is unacceptable. We believe that HMRC, the authority charged with ensuring all employers in the UK pay the statutory National Living Wage, rather than being forced to guarantee minimum levels of pay, should be leading by example in ensuring that staff working in this department are paid above the statutory minimum.

This change means that for HMRC to comply with statutory legislation all AA grade staff who currently receive the national spot rate – the single rate paid for their grade – will be subject to a supplementary salary increase from £16,600 to £17,167.

We raised the need for the 2018 uplift to the statutory National Living Wage during our substantive pay talks in early 2017 but were told at the time that HMRC was unable to obtain any additional funding to make the necessary statutory changes back in June we asked for. Although this uplift does bring HMRC in line with the legal requirements of the National Minimum Wage both national and London spot rates for AA staff do still fall way below the figure calculated by the Living Wage Foundation of £8.75 an hour (national) and £10.20 an hour (London) as a Real Living Wage.

PCS is demanding that HMRC commits to becoming a Living Wage Employer, recognised by the Living Wage Foundation, and ensures that its workers are paid at least a Real Living Wage.

PCS General Secretary Mark Serwotka said: “It’s shocking that civil service pay has become so low that the second biggest government department has to make special adjustments to comply with the government’s own minimum wage legislation. Years of austerity, pay freezes and caps have meant some of our lowest paid members have to take second jobs or visit foodbanks to survive.

99% of PCS members voting in our national ballot said they are prepared to consider strike action if the government does not resource public services so they can adequately fund an above inflation pay rise for all staff.

"The failure in the recent budget to listen to the concerns of its own workforce is a major error on the part of the chancellor. Unless the government changes track quickly, then PCS members will be forced to ballot for industrial action on the issue.”

Serious low pay concerns

Although AA pay and the Living Wage is a matter of concern we have also raised other related issues around the difference in pay between AA grade staff and those on the next grade up of administrative officer. The employer is aware that if the pay cap continues it is likely that in the near future the minimum of the AO pay scale would be at a level where annual supplementary increases would be required to keep up with HMRC’s legal obligations to conform to the statutory National Living Wage. PCS has also identified issues around tackling inequality, retention, and more general concerns around low pay.

It is very clear that there are major pressures on our pay and grading system that urgently need to be addressed and that significant investment will be required in order to do this. We will continue to press the employer to demand the funds necessary to ensure that this happens. Our national pay campaign will continue to put pressure on the government to address our demand to scrap the pay cap and fully fund an above inflation pay rise.

Updated at 9.29am on 14 December to include a quote from Mark Serwotka.

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