The Remuneration Board met on 23 May 2019. The following is a summary of its discussions and decisions.
Review of the Determination for the Sixth Assembly
The Board examined the provisions which fall under part two of its review which include the staffing support allowances contained in the Determination. The Board agreed to further consider these issues at its next meeting with a view to publishing a consultation on any proposed changes before the summer recess.
The Board also undertook its first consideration of the issues which form the third part of the review, which are the Members’ remuneration and support for leaving office chapters of the Determination. The Board will return to these issues at its next meeting. As noted on the Board’s website, the Board anticipates issuing a consultation on the issues raised in the third part of the review during the autumn term.
Members’ Pension Scheme rules review
The Board considered whether the Members’ Pension Scheme needed to be reviewed to ensure that it did not give rise to any potential age discrimination. As the Remuneration Board is responsible for setting the rules of the Scheme, it agreed to undertake some changes to the rules to ensure that they remained fit for purpose. The Board also agreed to share its proposals with the Pension Board ahead of consulting with stakeholders on these changes later in the summer.
Six month review of changes to staffing allowances
You will recall that the Board changed how the staffing allowances could be utilised as part of its recent review of staffing support. These changes included removing the 111 hour cap on the employment of permanently employed staff, budgeting salary costs at actual costs and changes to the viring options available to Members. The purpose of these changes was to offer more flexibility to Members without increasing the cost to the taxpayer. When these changes were introduced, the Board agreed to review and monitor the changes after six and twelve months.
The Board considered the changes that have taken place since their introduction, and while there is some evidence that it is providing greater flexibility, the Board feels it is too early to be able to consider the full impact of these changes. As such the Board agreed to conduct a further review in November and January to allow more time to assess the impact and their effectiveness. If any change is required as a result of these future considerations, then the Board will consult on these changes.
Amended support staff policies
The Board agreed to changes to both the support staff Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, to ensure they complemented the Dignity and Respect policy, as well as other changes to the Compassionate Leave and Recruitment policies. As you may recall the Board consulted on proposals to amend the Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures to include the introduction of an independent person to investigate complaints made against Members or family members who are employed in the same office, as well to allow support staff the right to be accompanied to any such meetings arising from these procedures. Following the consultation, the Board agreed to implement these changes and to consult with Members and support staff representatives on the wording changes to the procedures and policies.
The Board shared these wording changes with the Representative Groups in April and discussed the proposed changes with both the Member and support staff representatives on 22 May 2019 prior to agreeing the final versions at its May meeting. The final versions will be circulated in due course and will take effect immediately. Should Members or support staff require any guidance on the amended procedures and policies, please contact Members’ Business Support.
In light of the recent changes to the political party groups in the Assembly, the Board noted the subsequent changes to the Political Party Support Allowance allocations. The Board agreed to consider the impact of party changes on all political group funding arrangements at a future meeting.
The Board also considered its draft report for its review of the staffing support for Members. This report will be published in due course.