Wednesday, 1 February 2017

North Lanarkshire Update

I promised to post some of the posts from the blog site archive on North Lanarkshire Council's job evaluation (JE) review.

So here they are - for your interest, information and future reference.


North Lanarkshire Update (23/12/16)

I continue to receive enquiries from readers in North Lanarkshire who can't understand why their jobs have not been included in the Council's job evaluation (JE) review.

Now I've explained this in the blog site previously, but essentially the Council agreed to review only a limited number of jobs and not the entire JE scheme.

The review was conducted by the Council and the trade unions and I certainly understood that the unions were prepared to consider including other jobs as the review proceeded.

After the review got underway, A4ES continued to argue in the Employment Tribunals that the jobs of Sheltered Housing Wardens, Clerical Assistants and Classroom Assistants were incorrectly scored and graded by the old JE scheme - which resulted in much improved settlement offers for the groups concerned, albeit only for clients of A4ES.

The trade unions did not join A4ES in this fight and had settled their members' claims previously and on much less favourable terms. 

So if I were in one of these occupational groups, as I've said on the blog site before I'd be getting organised with my co-workers and asking what the trade unions are doing to bring these jobs within the scope of the JE review.

Not least because A4ES and Daphne Romney QC have already done all of the heavy lifting involved by continuing to pursue these cases at the Employment Tribunals.


North Lanarkshire Update (24/11/16)

North Lanarkshire's job evaluation (JE) review was effectively forced on the Council by events at the long-running Glasgow Employment Tribunal where the top barrister representing A4ES clients, Daphne Romney QC, effectively drove a 'coach and horses' through the 'old' JE scores and grades of some of the Council's female dominated jobs, for example Home Support Workers  

The JE review began in the spring of 2015 and was carried out by the Council and the local trade unions via the normal collective bargaining arrangements - Action 4 Equality Scotland was not directly involved in the review process.

I wrote about the JE review extensively on the blog site, at the time, and a selection of posts from the archive can be read below - more can be read by visiting the blog site itself, particularly the months of May, June and July 2015.

The only female dominated jobs included in the initial review were Home Support Workers, School Crossing Patrollers and Playground Supervisors although my understanding is that the Council and the trade unions were both prepared to consider adding other jobs to the original list. A number of male comparator jobs were included as well.

At the time A4ES was still fighting on behalf of Sheltered Housing Wardens, Clerical Assistants and Classroom Assistants because we believed their 'old' JE scores and grades were also ridiculously low.

The trade unions in NLC did not join A4ES in that ongoing fight on behalf of their Sheltered Housing Warden, Clerical Assistant and Classroom Assistant members in the Employment Tribunals, having previously agreed settlements for their members albeit on much inferior terms than those won subsequently by A4ES.  

Despite the concessions made by NLC in relation to the 'old' JE scores and grades of Sheltered Housing Wardens, Clerical Assistants and Classroom Assistants the Council has still not included these jobs in the latest JE review.

Nor, as far as I know, have the local trade unions made a case for these three jobs (or any other jobs) to be brought within the scope of the JE review.

Now I find this very surprising because the concessions made by NLC resulted in higher JE scores and grades, but only for the A4ES clients named in the Employment Tribunal case and only for for the purpose of calculating an improved settlement of their outstanding equal pay claims.

As a result, the outcome of the JE review is that from grade NLC 1 upwards the only female dominated job to benefit is Home Support Worker despite clear evidence that Sheltered Housing Wardens, Clerical Assistants and Classroom Assistants all deserve further examination, potentially along with others not included in the original list. 

As far as I know, the only ongoing JE activity is an appeal on behalf of night shift Home Support Workers who were awarded grade NLC 6 while their day shift colleagues received NLC 7.  

So if I were a trade union member in North Lanarkshire ,I would be banging on the door of my local representatives, asking what my union is doing to look after my interests as far as the JE review is concerned.  

NLC Update (28/05/15)

In a recent post I wrote about various aspects of re-evaluating various North Lanarkshire Council jobs following criticism of the scores and grades awarded at the long-running Employment Tribunal hearing. 

One of the starting points in the whole process is to draw up new Job Descriptions (JDs) so that the duties and responsibilities of every job involved is described accurately and fully, i.e. without leaving anything out.

If you ask me, the good practice way of carrying out this exercise would be to publish a draft of every new Job Description on the internet so that people who are not asked to complete a questionnaire understand the process, can see for themselves what is going on and have the opportunity to comment before anything is finalised.

Another good reason for doing this is that job evaluation is a comparative exercise, so it is important to understand what is happening to other jobs involved in the process and not just your own.

Because it has been known in the past for employers to 'pad-out' certain jobs with extra duties and responsibilities which gives them a leg up when it comes to assessing what scores to award under each (job evaluation) Factor Heading.

So there's nothing to stop people getting together to coordinate this important work given the implications for the NLC workforce and again if every step was published on the internet along the way, people would know what is happening and have the opportunity to comment.

In other words, transparency and consistency go hand in hand when it comes to job evaluation.   

North Lanarkshire Update (23/05/15)

Lots of readers have been in touch to ask about the re-evaluation of various jobs in North Lanarkshire Council which has been prompted by the council being forced to concede at the Employment Tribunal that a number of female dominated jobs had not been assessed and graded correctly back in 2006/07.

As part of the equal pay settlement it was agreed by all the parties that the process of carrying out a further job evaluation would be down to the council and the trade unions.

Now that is quite sensible because while Action 4 Equality Scotland (A4ES) has led the fight for equal pay in North Lanarkshire all these years, the council (management and councillors) along with the unions make up the permanent collective bargaining structures in North Lanarkshire.

Part of the agreement is that A4ES will be kept fully informed about what's going on and how the council and the unions intend to tackle the problems that clearly exist within the present grading structure.

Apparently the unions have issued some limited information on the process which says that the following jobs will be subject to further evaluation:  
  • Playground Supervisors
  • School Crossing Patrollers
  • Home Support Workers
  • Road Sweepers
  • Refuse Collectors
  • Gardeners at grades 4 and 5
  • Chargehand Gardeners at grade 6
Now the list contains only the three female dominated jobs which were originally identified at the Employment Tribunal hearing.

Other employees such as Admin & Clerical Workers and Classroom Assistants, for example, may have a case to argue that their jobs and factor scores should be reviewed as well which could be done by bringing a group of such workers together to look in detail at the existing job description and individual factor scores.

Now this would also require a proper look at the male jobs to compare what scores these jobs have been awarded under all the different factor headings to ensure consistency and that jobs are not being treated in isolation.

As I've said before on the blog site what would help this process is maximum transparency and openness which could be achieved by putting all of this information on the Council's web site, for example, where everyone could see what is going on and have the opportunity to comment if they wish.

Over the coming weeks I'll do my best to answer people's questions and requests for information on the blog site, so watch this space.

North Lanarkshire Update (27/05/16)

Equal Value (EV) claimants in North Lanarkshire have been waiting for several years on a fair resolution of their 1st Wave equal play claims which cover the period prior to January 2007, i.e. before the introduction of NLC's new job evaluation scheme (JES).

A giant step forward was taken at a remedies hearing in Glasgow yesterday (26 May) when the Employment Tribunal issued an order requiring North Lanarkshire Council to pay the claimants an award worth over £6 million in total.

One outstanding issue is the male comparators which can been used to determine the level of compensation payable to certain of the female jobs. 

The equal value jobs and male comparators that are in dispute are as follows:

Housing Warden - Refuse Collector
Clerical Assistant - Refuse Collector
Classroom Assistant - Gardener (Grade 2)  

The reason these male comparators have been used during the tribunal proceedings is that they are on the same grades as Housing Warden, Clerical Assistant and Classroom Assistant using the JES introduced by North Lanarkshire Council in 2007.

But while the grades are the same in each case the actual number of points awarded by the JES are very slightly lower, in the case of Housing Wardens by 3 points and Classroom Assistants by only 1 point.

So the Council is arguing that this marginal 'points gap' means that the women's jobs are not of 'equal value' to the male jobs and so they have to rely on a lower paid comparator, thus reducing the value of their compensation in some cases.

In effect, the Council is saying is that the job of a Housing Warden or a Clerical Assistant is not 'worth' as much as a Refuse Collector - and that the job of a Classroom Assistant is not on a par with an unskilled Gardener (2).

Now I have nothing against Refuse Collectors or Road Sweepers, but I would beg to differ on this point.

What this all boils down to is that the claimants will 'bank' what is on offer just now using the lower comparator because this is of real financial significance for the people involved.

But the fight will continue to achieve a better comparator (and better outcome) for the Housing Wardens, Clerical Assistants and Classroom Assistants.

In fact, a further hearing has already been set to debate these issues on 2 July 2015 which will try to resolve the question of whether the higher male comparators can and should be used for each of the three female jobs. If  this doesn't happen there may need to be further to be further proceedings on behalf of these groups.  

Fox and Partners Solicitors will be issuing further advice and detailed information to A4ES clients in due course, both individually and via their web site.

I will update the blog site as soon as there is any further news.