Update on the current position with police officer pay
Main pay award
The Police Remuneration Review Body (PRRB) recommendations were received by the Justice Minister in June 2022. PFNI have requested sight of the PRRB recommendations from the Justice Minister and from PRRB themselves. We have yet to have sight of the recommendations.
The disquiet and frustration PFNI have about this has already been communicated to both DOJ officials and the Justice Minister. PFNI have been told the contents of the report are ‘strictly confidential’ and will not be shared until the Justice Minister makes a decision whether to ratify the pay award.
The NI Government has unfortunately been in limbo since February 2022. As there is no functioning Executive the PSNI were allocated a reduced envelope budget for 2022. PSNI are currently projecting that they will be some £90 million over budget and are awaiting the Government setting a public sector pay policy and the release of any allocated or additional funds following the next monetary round.
All public sector bodies have been advised via the media, that as Northern Ireland has no functioning Executive Government, a public sector pay policy has not been able to be set, therefore no pay awards are capable of being signed off.
In 2021 DOF/DOJ for the first time requested that PSNI provide business cases for both increments and the main pay award at the same time. This was apparently to bring the police officers pay remits in line with the rest of the public sector bodies in NI. PFNI were first notified that there was an issue with this in late September 2021. In previous years, the incremental pay for police was paid as normal and later ratified by a retrospective notification to DOF/DOJ.
Last year this change in process caused a six-month delay in incremental pay being honoured and placed into officers’ salaries. This was retrospectively backdated to 1st September 2021 thus rectifying all outstanding monies due;
In 2022 PFNI have made strong representations to PSNI and the DOJ to ‘decouple’ the processes so that incremental pay can be progressed separately. In the absence of a Government, DOJ indicated that they and DOF were not minded to amend the process at this time. PSNI were also hamstrung in making any business case in the absence of a full budget allocation.
As a result of PFNI representations, PSNI have now submitted the business case to DOJ however without a functioning government and no public sector pay policy this matter inevitability will face delays in being approved.
At a meeting with DOJ and other stakeholders today it was discussed that planning by the NIO is already underway and the Secretary of State may in the coming weeks set a budget and publish a public sector pay policy. If this occurs, it may allow our main pay award and incremental pay to be progressed which will alleviate the current challenging conditions for colleagues.
I will continue to provide updates as and when I receive them.
Damian Walsh, PFNI Secretary