Big day at the BBC as ballot starts on terms and conditions review

24 May 2018

After 21 months of intense talks, a ballot on a major overhaul of BBC staff terms and conditions gets underway today. All of the unions involved, BECTU, the NUJ and Unite are recommending acceptance of the proposed changes. The ballot runs from 24 May - 11 June.

Work at the BBC? Join BECTU to secure a vote

Hundreds, if not thousands of hours, have been spent in face to face talks with the BBC, internal union talks run by each union, joint-union discussions and at least two rounds of consultation meetings with members at venues around the country since the review began in the autumn of 2016. It took two complete days of talks at ACAS and a final session which ran through the night until 6.30 to secure the deal. 

Gerry Morrissey, head of BECTU, who led the talks for the joint-union side commented:

"We believe that the overall package on the table benefits the vast majority of union members at the BBC.

"It gives particular support to lower paid employees and provides more control to those working unsociable hours to help them to achieve a better work/life balance. We're also on the way to securing reward for those who regularly work weekends.

"If members vote for the package they'll have a fairer, more transparent pay and reward system and better conditions.

"These talks have required patience and resilience on the part of everyone involved. As the ballot gets underway, I'd especially like to thank our BBC reps for their contributions over many months which have guided us to where we are now."

Highlights of the pay and conditions proposals

  • A three year pay deal - 2% for 2017, 2% for 2018, 2.5% or the licence fee settlement if greater in 2019 (effective date in each year 1 August);
  • Bring to minimum payments for those staff currently paid below the base for their job in the new job pay range; 
  • New minimum salary of £20,000 from 1 August 2018;
  • The % increase for 2019 to be applied to the floors and ceilings of the new pay bands (A-F) in 2019;
  • Consolidated pay increases for staff paid above the new pay ranges for 2017; and 2018 with the promise of talks ahead of the 2019 review to find a fair and transparent way of managing pay for those paid above the bands;
  • Protection for those staff due growth in the job payments or other salary progression; these staff to have the option to remain on the current scheme if more beneficial;
  • Move to single London Weighting allowance with increase to be phased in, 50% in August 2018 and 50% in August 2019; 
  • The 2017 2% increase, 'bring to the minimum' payments and 1.5% lower quarter increments to be backdated to 1 August 2017 (minus the £400 downpayment paid last year); 
  • Whilst the new grading structure the Career Path Framework is not part of the ballot, the unions have secured strong commitments from the BBC on improvements to the consultative structures for that. 

On the downside the long-standing UPA or Flexibility Payment, paid at one of two levels to certain categories of staff, will not be expanded to any new staff. Instead for current recipients the payment will become a frozen legacy payment which will not grow in line with the annual review. The BBC had long stated its desire to remove the allowances. 

New contract types on offer

Three new contract types have been designed: Fixed, Shift or Variable to meet the range of demands placed on BBC staff. In a new provision, staff on fixed contracts are set to receive time off lieu should they work extra hours.

Shift staff will benefit from four weeks notice of shifts, with the right to refuse changes to the published rostered where these changes are notified within two weeks of the working day. Changes can be arrived at by mutual agreement however.  

Those on a Variable working pattern - more akin to annualised hours or self-scheduling - the promise if that there will be no immediate change to existing working patterns. However work will continue to give these staff more certainty about scheduling. Where staff are denied the compensatory rest due under the Working Time Regulations due to short turnarounds between shifts, paid time off in lieu will be given. 

Better sick pay and parental leave

If the package is accepted staff will also benefit from improved sick pay up from 8 weeeks to 18 weeks at full pay followed by 9 weeks at half pay in a rolling 12 month period. On parental leave, this will be increased to a maximum of 18 weeks at full pay per child; parental leave will also be increased to two weeks full pay up from the statutory minimum. 

Weekends are special

BECTU fought hard during the talks to get recognition that weekends are special even in a 24/7 broadcasting operation like the BBC. BECTU explained to members "BECTU has consistently argued that while our members accept a level of anti-social hours working, to do this regularly over the weekends is different. Weekends are special."

As a result a joint working party will consider a Weekend Working Allowance and how this should be paid. If the working group is unable to reach agreement then the case will be considered by an abitrator for a final ruling. The unions have persuaded the BBC to accept the principle that weekends are special which is a huge step forward. Underlining this, staff who have worked more than 20 weekend days during the period 1 June 2017 - 1 June 2018 will be granted an extra days annual leave. 

Unions urge YES vote

More detail on the proposals has been provided to union members. BECTU is urging all union members to take part in the ballot and to vote YES. New members joining BECTU can also secure a vote. 

Encouraging BECTU members to vote YES, national secretary Sarah Ward and assistant national secretary Noel McClean have said:

"The question we had to ask ourselves was "is it better?" and we genuinely believe it is. We have always approached this negotiation with an eye on the future - such a significant project deserves better than just dealing with now. The proposal sets a way of working, with joint oversight, that provides a better foundation for our members to continue to shape their future."

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Updated 19.30, 24 May 2018.