Average Pay on Annual Leave (Holiday Pay) in Royal Mail Group – Joint Statement for Back Pay Arrangements (Christmas Peak Period) Covering SA Rate Payments for Pre-Scheduled Overtime & part-time to full-time Uplift
Further to LTB 294/21 circulated on 16th July 2021, Branches and Representatives will recall that, just prior to the Branch ballot, an issue was highlighted during a social media Q&A session that related to the Christmas peak (Period 9) and in particular the pre-scheduled, non-contractual overtime being paid at scheduled attendance rate as well as temporary variations of contract.
The potential consequence was that this practice may prevent some members from meeting the regularity threshold of the six-month qualifying periods where Period 9 was included. Branches and Representatives will know that Christmas is the only time of the year where there is a wholesale adjustment to the National Scheduled Attendance Agreement in Royal Mail and Parcelforce although in the latter the arrangements are covered in the Autumn Pressure Agreement.
Therefore, in order to resolve this matter and obtain an agreed joint clarification of how this discrepancy can be resolved for the back pay calculation as well as in the future a series of meetings were held between the DGS(P) Department and the business. During those talks it became apparent that whilst Royal Mail Group were able to use the PSP system to distinguish between scheduled attendance hours and those paid as pressure, they do not yet have the ability to separate the pre-scheduled hours paid over Period 9 as non-contractual scheduled attendance.
It was recognised early in the talks that the immediate problem this presented related to the manual calculation of back pay. As there is already a demand from members to know when back payments will be made, this aspect had to take priority. In addition, consideration was also given to scheduled attendance and bank holiday pay over Christmas, the part-time qualification for the Christmas supplement where there had been an agreed variation of contract and the underpin payment arrangements.
Whilst the matter under discussion was originally highlighted in relation to full-time, it also became evident that there is a significant impact upon part-time. Using 2019 as a representative year, due to Covid being prevalent in 2020, the statistics show that in excess of 6,600 part-time employees increased their hours in Period 9 with close to 4,000 varying their hours to full-time and above for more than two weeks.
The business originally proposed that Period 9 was removed altogether for everyone from the back pay regularity threshold. This was rejected as without further clarification and guidelines there would undoubtedly have been an adverse impact on many members who then would have seen their normal rate overtime hours performed in Period 9 removed from the back pay calculation.
There have been a number of complexities to these talks however I am now pleased to report that at a meeting on 26thAugust 2021 the attached Joint Statement was endorsed by the Postal Executive.
Branches will see that there is now an agreement to define the process for the calculation of back pay and in particular the impact of Period 9. The estimated date for these payments to be made is late September/early October although a further clarification of the exact dates will be provided in the coming weeks. In terms of the calculation itself, there are now conditions attached to the removal of Period 9. This means that a failure to meet the regularity threshold due to the alternative pay arrangements during this period will not mean a disqualification from the regularity test. Furthermore, if a member qualifies in the remaining monthly periods (7, 8, 10, 11 and 12) then for Period 9 any overtime hours paid as normal overtime rate or all part-time single rate overtime outside of agreed temporary contract variations are included in the calculation.
Members who have performed pre-scheduled overtime during the Christmas Period will meet the regularity test but earnings from hours paid at scheduled attendance rate will be excluded from the average pay calculation. This is due to having received the higher pay rate and the average of the SA they have performed being paid to them for the Christmas Period Bank Holidays. This principle will also apply to part-time members who by local agreement have a temporary increase to their conditioned hours to full-time for a minimum of two weeks in the Christmas Peak Period and qualify to receive the full amount of the £100 Christmas supplement and the £100 Colleague Share (underpin) payment.
National negotiations will now be held to agree a process for the calculation going forward including how Period 9 features and may well have to involve both Davie Robertson and Mark Baulch’s Departments. The data that emanates from the back pay calculations will help to inform these talks and the aim will be to reach a conclusion by 31stOctober 2021, after which a further update will be provided to Branches.
Negotiations will also continue at a national level in order to be able to identify those hours above pre-scheduled overtime levels paid as ad-hoc overtime for LGV drivers. It has been agreed that YDC will be used as a test unit where such data can be jointly evaluated. The objective will then be to reach agreement for a process that can be overlaid nationally.
Branches will recognise that the terms of the main national agreement centre on an agreed definition for the regularity of overtime together with the associated reference periods. The agreement will prove significantly beneficial to our part-time members especially if used in conjunction with the national joint statement for resourcing, and recruitment and Branches are encouraged to utilise the terms of both agreements together.
When originally negotiating a national agreement of this magnitude, Branches and Representatives will know that it was never going to be possible to accommodate every single individual duty pattern. Whilst the attached Joint Statement now provides further clarification around the calculation of back pay, it is possible that other issues may also emerge as this data is analysed. Branches will recall that the main national agreement provides for joint reviews after six and twelve months. It is therefore the intention to pick up any other outstanding issues that are identified as part of this activity at that stage.
Branches and Representatives will be advised of further developments as they occur. Any enquiries in relation to the content of this LTB should be addressed to the DGS(P) Department.
Deputy General Secretary (Postal)