Case study: Kent County Council keeps pay rates local

Kent County Council has an unusual approach to public sector pay. It introduced local pay rates in 1990 and, over the past five years, has allowed unions to engage in local pay bargaining.

In April 2010, the council reformed its pay structure for about 13,000 staff, excluding schools, by removing annual incremental pay points from pay grades and introduced percentage increases related to performance management. Colin Miller, reward manager, says: “The percentage increase is determined at the end of a moderation process where the organisation needs to decide what percentage to apply for each rating.”

The council has also made a significant change to its pay structure in awarding employees at the top of their grade a one-off payment that is the same as people moving up the grade. “We see that as a fair way of rewarding all our
staff,” says Miller.

The council begins its pay review process in October, meeting unions, discussing general economic data and agreeing what both sides are looking at. Subsequent meetings take into account the national perspective and what the unions expect to see from national negotiations, although the council is not bound by those decisions. Formal recommendations to the senior management team are made around January, and the review receives full endorsement from councillors in February, with the agreed settlement implemented in April.

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