This guide is for reps and officers to highlight how pay progression data can be used as an organising and bargaining tool at a local level. It looks at why the data is important, how you can collect it, what to look for and how it can be used.
Why is collecting information on pay important?
The neu annual pay progression survey which goes out to all neu members has repeatedly shown disparities in pay progression rates for groups of members with protected characteristics. Teachers who are pregnant, on maternity leave, disabled teachers and teachers from a black and ethnic minority background are more likely to be denied pay progression. Teachers who work part time, job share, or any other flexible arrangement are more likely to be denied pay progression than their full-time counterparts and we know that this adversely impacts on women as they are more likely to have these flexible arrangements due to their caring and childcare responsibilities.
Collecting data from your workplace will help you to see where the disparities are at a local level. It will help you to get a better understanding of the issues causing the gaps in your school workforce.
Who will make the request for pay progression data?
The neu rep or official who has the key negotiating relationship with the employer should make the request:
- For community and voluntary controlled schools this will be the branch secretary.
- For voluntary aided, foundation and stand-alone academies this will be the school rep.
- For multi-academy trusts (mats) this will be the neu lead officer, lead rep or branch secretary covering that trust.
If you are unsure whether you should be making the request, contact you branch secretary or neu regional office to check.
How can i make the request?
There are model letters available on officers sharepoint ( click here) which you should use to make your request.
In the model letters we remind the employer of their public sector equality duty in accordance with equality act 2010 to monitor and assess the impact of its school’s pay policies on employees by reference to their protected characteristics.
We also advise them to comply with the dfe’s advice to monitor pay decisions to see if any patterns emerge to indicate concern such as a disproportionately higher number of men than women receiving progression generally or higher rates of progression.
Officers and reps are advised to first use the letter which states that you are making the request in accordance with section 181 of the trade union and labour relations (consolidation) act 1992, which entitles us, as a recognised trade union to receive the information for collective bargaining purposes.
If the employer refuses to comply with the request, then use the foia model letter to make the request under the freedom of information act. There are further actions that can be undertaken if the foia request is refused. All relevant resources are available on officers sharepoint.
When should requests be sent?
Decisions on pay progression are usually taken by 31 october. Requests for pay progression data can be submitted any time after the beginning of term and it is sensible to submit them no later than 30 september. You should ask for the information to be sent to you as soon as it is available and no later than 31 december.
Negotiators, lead reps and officers should share the information received with the bargaining support unit by 30th january so that the information can be discussed and reviewed at national level.
What information are we asking the employer to provide?
With the initial request letter, you should also send the template excel spreadsheet (available on sharepoint). This worksheet has been designed for the employer’s convenience and will make it easy for you to compile and analyse the information.
The information sought covers:
- The number of teachers eligible to be assessed for pay progression in september (current year).
- The numbers who received progression, were denied progression or (where relevant) did not apply for progression.
- Breakdowns by pay scale point, sector of school and personal characteristics such as gender, ethnicity, full/part time status, maternity leave etc.
We request that the information is provided on an aggregated basis for all schools and also on an individual basis for each individual school. Data should be on a headcount basis (i.e. Actual numbers) not an fte basis.
The information, if provided by the employer as requested, will not allow individuals to be identified personally.
What shall i look for in the data?
You should pay careful attention to the calculation of progression rates i.e. The percentage of eligible teachers who received pay progression. It is the practice of some academy chains to subtract those teachers who chose not to apply for threshold from the total number of teachers eligible for progression. This approach invariably produces a higher overall progression rate which doesn’t accurately reflect the true number of teachers who have received progression. Teachers eligible for progression from the main to the upper pay range, but who decline to apply to do so, are just as ‘eligible’ for pay progression as any other teacher – and should therefore not be excluded from the calculation of pay progression rates.
In academies with a negative or aggressive management style, teachers often choose to keep a low profile and not attract attention by inviting further, and avoidable, performance scrutiny. Therefore, it is our view that those not progressing to the upr because they have not applied to do so should be included in the same category as those whose threshold applications have been turned down.
Rates of pay progression by gender and other protected characteristics is very important for all the reasons stated above and will help you to organise members and challenge the employer’s policy.
How can i use the data?
Collecting pay scale and pay progression data will help you to organise members around the discriminatory nature of performance related pay (prp) and build an argument around the slow erosion of pay scales and the negative impact on recruitment and retention.
You can also use the data for collective bargaining purposes. It will provide leverage in tackling the entrenched injustice of gender pay inequality and put pressure on employers to review their pay policy to help close the gender pay gap.
Looking at the data will help you to identify key issues to look in the employer’s pay policy such as threshold and what is required of teachers on the upper pay scale, looking at the tlr structure, is it fairly applied? How are decisions made, making sure policy reflects the school teachers’ pay and conditions document (stpcd) etc.
Overall progression rates will help you to make a comparison with previous years and initiate reflection and discussion with the employer. You may also be aware of pay progression rates of similar employers locally or nationally – if these are better than those of the employer with whom you are negotiating, this can be used as leverage in a bargaining context.
Further information on issues around pay inequality and common questions for members to understand their rights in relation to their pay is in this list of FAQS.
The NEU has also produced a guide for reps on discrimination in pay with a checklist of actions for reps to take in their workplace and is available here.