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Unions secure ground-breaking pay offer for BBC staff

4 May 2018

BBC staff are being offered a brand-new set of terms and conditions, including a three-year pay deal, following negotiations between the BBC and BECTU, the NUJ and Unite.

The unions have agreed to recommend the offer to members. The wide ranging offer covers pay,  parental leave, sick pay, contracts of employment and working policies on weekend pay and night working.

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Three year pay-deal

The BBC and union members had identified complexities and inconsistencies in the current pay structure. After a forensic examination of existing roles and how they are paid compared to market rates a new grading structure has been proposed.

During the course of discussions the BBC recognised that some roles were being paid below the market rate and ideally wants its staff to be at the median of the market.

The changes mean that for the first two years of the deal all staff who are low in their pay range would get incremental increases of 1.5% to progress their pay within the band their role is in.

After the two years have passed the BBC and unions will start new negotiations on how a ringfenced pool of funding, which matches the increments paid out, will be used to progress salaries.

As well as the grades restructure a three-year pay deal backdated to 2017 is being proposed.  A pay award of 2% in 2017/18, 2% in 2018/19, and 2.5% (or the licence fee settlement if higher) in 2019/20 has been agreed.

BECTU national secretary Sarah Ward said: “The BBC’s finances are exceptionally precarious because between now and 2020 it will be taking over the financing of the over 75’s free TV licences and this will lead to a loss of 20% of the BBC licence fee income, which the unions do not support.

“This pay offer secures our members future pay award at a time when the BBC financing situation is very delicate.”

The BBC has also committed that its minimum salary would rise from £15,687 to £20,000.

Deal for parents

Parents will be in a better position as a result of the deal. A progressive offer has been put in place for shared parental leave, which will see pay enhanced.  Legally, mothers and fathers are able to share statutory maternity leave entitlement. This is called shared parental leave.

The statutory maternity entitlement can be transferred to a father, but they are often not entitled to the pay that the mother maybe entitled to from her work place.

As part of this deal the BBC is offering 18 weeks of full pay per child when shared parental leave is used and also enhancing paternity pay to two weeks full pay.

Weekend working

Meanwhile, for staff who work at weekends, a joint-working group made up of business representative and unions will be established. It will investigate how weekend working, which can be disruptive, should be recognised.

It will be facilitated by an independent mediator and will report back on whether that should be extra remuneration or time. 

BECTU assistant national officer Noel McClean said: “The union is very proud that we have got the BBC to recognise that weekend working is special and deserves recognition. For many years we have had complaints from staff that once they are employed they see little salary improvement and we have managed to introduce an increment which goes against the trend.”

Redundancy terms for part-time workers

The BBC had proposed changes on how redundancy pay would be calculated for part-time workers which would have disadvantaged members who went from full-time work to part-time. Following the ACAS discussions these proposals have now been withdrawn and the redundancy terms for part-time workers remain unchanged.

Sick pay

There has also been an improvement on the terms of how sick pay is offered to staff after a wide variety of inconsistencies were highlighted during the negotiations. Contractual sick pay has been increased to a maximum of 18 weeks full pay followed by 9 weeks half pay in any 12 month rolling period.

The previous entitlement meant that staff were entitled to 26 weeks over a two-year period, which had in some instances led to people returning to work from illness earlier than they were ready to.

Death in service

5,000 BBC employees who are not members of the defined benefit pension schemes currently receive a death in service benefit of two times their salary while those in the defined benefit pension scheme receive four times their final salary. The BBC have agreed to harmonise this benefit at four times.

Head of BECTU Gerry Morrissey said:

“This new deal, which is still subject to a ballot of the members, demonstrates how important it is that unions work collaboratively with employers. The BBC recognised that its staff terms and conditions needed updating and the unions were able to negotiate substantially on the issues based on our knowledge of members' experiences at work."

“This proposed deal is the result of a comprehensive review of staff terms and conditions aimed at ensuring that the BBC is best placed to retain and develop the workforce whilst ensuring that the Corporation remains competitive in an increasingly fragmented market."

Negotiations were held over 21 months and crunch talks took place this week at ACAS, where the final session of negotiations rolled on for 22 hours straight.

The ballot will open on 24 May and close on 11 June.

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This article was updated on 14 May 2018.

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