The fire service pay and conditions agreement agreed between both sides of the National Joint Council in June 2003 set out changes in conditions of service and the associated pay rises. At Stage 2 of the agreement which was effective from 7 November 2003 the pay structure was linked to the IPDS role structure. The IPDS system had been developed within the Central Fire Brigades Advisory Council (CFBAC) upon which the Union had played a lead role.
The negotiations at NJC to fully implement the June 2003 agreement required further detailed work on the IPDS system in order that the pay structure could be implemented. The outcome of that work was set out in the consultative documents sent to members in March 2004 and was endorsed in a ballot of members in April 2004.
By November 2003, detailed negotiation was still required on the guidance for the assessment of competence for each role within the IPDS structure and the assessment of job size for the roles. That negotiation is still continuing, and many questions have been asked by members and officials. This following seeks to answer those questions.
What is IPDS?
This is a role-based rather than rank-based system to provide employees of the UK fire and rescue service with a structured career path and fire brigades with a national, consistent, measurable benchmark for training.
Does the IPDS system apply to all our members?
The IPDS system has been designed to cover all uniformed members of the Fire & Rescue Service and is particularly important in delivering one of the main achievements of the 2003 Pay Agreement which is parity for our retained members and to fully integrate control staff members within the Fire & Rescue Service.
What is the impact of IPDS on my pay structure?
For IPDS purposes each individual member will pass through a number of developmental stages in the course of demonstrating competence
For the roles of firefighter and control, the training stage is the point at which an individual is in full time training and is not yet performing the role. A member in this position would receive a trainee rate of pay. On leaving full time training, a member will move on to the Development stage.
The development stage is where a member is working in the role under supervision, and is being assessed against the different functions within the role map that are applicable within that specific role. While members are in this stage and before they show competence in the full requirements of the role, they will receive the development rate of pay.
After members have been assessed as being competent in all the applicable functions of their role, they will have demonstrated “competence” and will receive the appropriate competent rate of pay.
When will I go on to the Competent Rate of Pay?
Although it is not possible to specify a specific time period for competence to be demonstrated, as it depends on a number of factors including the specific requirements of individuals, the NJC have agreed that it is expected that the majority of employees on all duty systems including the retained duty system should show competence within the following time scales :-
|Firefighter/Firefighter Control||3 years from entry to the service|
|All other roles||18 months from entering the programme|
I work on the retained duty system. When is it expected that I will be on the competent rate of pay?
On implementation of the pay agreement in November 2003, all serving members on the retained duty system were deemed to be competent for pay purposes. In the future, the expected time scales that apply to members on the wholetime duty systems will also apply to those on the retained duty system. This will obviously need a considerable investment in the training and development of members on the retained duty system, and brigade committees will be raising this issue with management, and nationally we will be monitoring the position.
How do I know I will be assessed fairly to achieve a competent rate of pay?
The NJC will be issuing guidance on assessment processes for this purpose, and this will be closely monitored by Brigade officials. If individual members have a difficulty with their assessment, then of course, the newly agreed Grievance Procedure can be applied.
Will I be assessed against all units within the role map?
The only units on which a member can be assessed, are those that have been determined as applying to that particular member’s role and that will be for the determination of the Fire & Rescue Authority in line with the agreed NJC role maps. The NJC has agreed a specific position in respect of driving duties within both the firefighter and firefighter control roles. Where the Fire & Rescue Authority does not require a member to drive, or for genuine reasons, the employee is unable to drive, he/she shall be regarded as competent within the role, subject to having demonstrated competence in all the other applicable functions in the role map.
What is a role map and who agrees them?
The NJC agreed a set of role maps in June 2003, which will be set out in an NJC document called “Fire and Rescue Services Rolemaps”. These role maps apply to Local Authority Fire & Rescue Services and form the contractual basis upon which our members work. For these role maps to be changed, it requires joint agreement within the National Joint Council. The National Occupational Standards on which the NJC role maps are based, are taken from the Emergency Fire Service Vocational standards.
What if I carry out some functions outside my role map?
This would be raised as an issue likely to attract an Additional Responsibility Allowance, provided for under the new National Agreement. Brigade officials negotiate these on your behalf.
How will it be determined if my role is an “A” or a “B”?
“A” or “B” determinations are in place in order to differentiate between “job size” within the same role. It was previously agreed that the job size guidance would be based on the principle that the main determination would be responsibility for people but other factors also have an impact. Local Officials negotiated a local criteria and sit on evaluation pannels and appeal pannels.
Within my role, can I move from “A” to “B”?
Yes. “A” and “B” reflect only job size and pay points, and do not represent any difference in role. In clear terms, for example, Watch Manager “B” is not a “higher rank” than Watch Manager “A”.
The Union has raised within the NJC Working Party the question of employers being able to compulsorily transfer a member from “B” to “A”, and provisional agreement has been reached that this can only happen voluntarily; or if the member continues to be paid at the higher “B” rate; or as a disciplinary sanction.
If I am dissatisfied with either the allocation to a role or whether I am paid “A” or “B” rate of pay, what can I do?
You should seek the advice of an Official who will advise you and assist you in the process.
|Further Information on IPDS, NOS and Role Maps can be found at the Skills for Justice Website|