Enterprise Bill

Written evidence submitted by the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) (ENT 28)

ABOUT AEP

The Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) is the trade union and professional association for 3,200 Educational Psychologists in the United Kingdom. It is the only trade union and professional association in the UK organised exclusively for and by Educational Psychologists. AEP works to provide means for the co-operation of educational psychologists and for the expression of their collective opinion on matters affecting the interests of education and psychology and the profession of educational psychology. It also aims to improve the pay and conditions of members, and to promote their employment interests.

INTRODUCTION

AEP welcomes the opportunity to submit evidence to the Public Bill Committee, particularly on Part 8: Public Sector Employment, which places a cap on public sector exit payments. AEP and its members would like to highlight particular concerns with this part of the legislation. We hope that, as the Bill progresses, members of the Committee will carefully consider the potential impact that this clause may have, not only on educational psychologists, but on other public sector workers as well.

CLAUSE 35: RESTRICTION ON PUBLIC SECTOR EXIT PAYMENTS

Most of AEP’s members are employed by local authorities, providing a range of strategic and statutory support to schools and individuals. As you may be aware, Educational Psychologists (EPs) have an undergraduate degree in psychology followed by at least two years’ experience of working with children before they commence their professional qualification as an EP. This professional qualification now requires a three year postgraduate doctorate. EP salaries start at around £38,000, and a Principal EP might earn in the order of £58,000 per year.

 

The Government has stated that the focus of this legislation is the "best paid" in society. EP salary levels do not constitute any definition of the "best paid". Despite this fact, AEP members might be caught by the Public Sector Exit Payments Cap. This is not due to any redundancy cash payment – for which there is a maximum of 30 weeks salary no matter how long their service – but because, if they are 55 or over, the pension "strain" payment from the local authority to the relevant Local Government Pension Scheme will be taken into account.

 

AEP contends that this payment – which, in effect, serves to compensate the pension scheme for drawing one’s pension early - should not be part of the calculation. This is because it is not a direct payment to the exiting public servant. Those who are made redundant in local authorities at the age of 55 or later should continue to be entitled to draw their pension in lieu of the fact that they have faced redundancy and reduced opportunities for re-employment in their area of expertise for which they will have dedicated their career. Voluntary redundancy for those nearing retirement is also a valuable management tool and if the Bill is enacted the unintended consequence will be that younger, more recently employed staff may have to be made redundant instead.

 

AEP believes that the pension "strain" payment should be excluded from the calculation. If this cannot be achieved, at the very least, there should be an exemption from this legislation for those aged 50 or over at the time of its enactment.

 

Finally, AEP would also like to raise its concern that settlement agreements – previously known as early conciliation settlements - should be excluded from the cap. This is important because settlements – including for whistleblowing, discrimination and health and safety detriment claims - made through the full ACAS procedure are excluded from exit payments calculations and therefore the cap.

It is unclear, however, whether those who take advantage of early settlement – or indeed those who secure a legal Compromise Agreement without ACAS - would be exempted. As it is in all people’s interests to secure early settlement (and compromise), and that is the goal of current Government policy, it would be perverse to create an incentive to not secure it.

February 2016

 

Prepared 11th February 2016