FDA unlocks bonus pay for Senior Civil Servants
The FDA's campaigning has sparked major reform of the SCS's performance management system – meaning many members can, for the first time in almost a decade, expect to see decent pay awards for their hard work.
The union's demands to end the two issues identified as causing FDA SCS members the most disengagement and discontent – forced distribution, and the 25% cap of senior civil servants who can be named "top" achievers – have been accepted.
Since its introduction in 2012, the FDA has consistently argued against the SCS's use of forced distribution. This system split senior civil servants into three categories, capping potential "top" achievers at 25% of the workforce, and enforcing 10% of individuals marked "low" and, accordingly, not eligible for bonuses. The remaining 65% in the middle category - "achieving" - were not eligible for the same awards as those distributed to "top" senior civil servants.
This system led to stagnation. Each category was tied to a specific percentage of SCS staff, and individuals rarely regressed to a lower achievement category. This left no room for "achieving" to "low" staff to progress to the next performance level.
The FDA has submitted annual evidence to the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) – the independent body which advises on pay for the SCS – including information gathered from the union's SCS pay surveys. The data demonstrated members' opposition to both forced distribution and the 25% cap on top achievers, as one member said:
"The differential between those who are appraised as being top 25% performers and those immediately below is far too great, given that there are many who are on the cusp of being in the top 25% and by not being assessed as such miss out on a considerable bonus. My line manager informed me that during moderation I was "in and out" of the top box but ended up out, marginally."
These submissions, combined with the FDA's engagement with the Cabinet Office, have led to an end of these restrictive pay policies.
FDA Assistant General Secretary Lucille Thirlby welcomed this, but underscored the need for further improvement. "The FDA remains convinced that the whole SCS performance management system requires a new framework," she said. "The Government has committed to do this, but the impetus for change remains high, and the FDA will continue to push for that change until it is realised.”
"We are aware of several civil service employers," she continued, "who would be willing and able to introduce or pilot a new approach immediately, and we believe they should not be forced to retain a system that fails on every conceivable success criterion. It isn't right that more than a third of top performers do not see a clear link between their performance and their pay.
"There is still a way to go to effect the necessary change for the SCS but this is a very positive (though long overdue) start."