Wage increases in the public sector – who decides and how? | Political news

Public sector workers, including nurses, teachers and doctors, are expected to see pay changes announced later today.

They are understood as an increase of about 5%in line with expected average wage increases, but unions believe this is not enough as it is less than half of the current level of RPI inflation.

As those in the public sector receive taxpayers’ money, the amount they receive is determined by their general employer – the government.

Politics Hub: Rishi Sunak unlikely to win against remaining candidates, poll finds

However, there is a long process to work out what their salary should be before ministers see a figure.

How are public sector wage increases determined?

Remuneration review bodies

Independent pay review bodies play a vital role in informing the government’s final decision on how around 45% of the public sector is paid – including teachers, nurses, doctors, police officers and members of the forces armies.

They are made up of experts in their field and their appointments are based on merit, not political affiliation.

The process begins when the relevant area secretary of state requests recommendations on employee compensation from compensation review bodies.

They will set a timeline and parameters such as asking agencies to review issues such as affordability, retention, recruitment and the state of the overall labor market.

Departmental salary expenditures are limited by the amount of funds they receive from the Consolidated Revenue Fund.

Read more: Doctors demand 30% pay rise as some medics say they may have to go on strike

NHS doctors and nurses will be included in salary changes

Various sources, such as unions and their members, as well as employers then submit evidence to wage review bodies, which typically visit staff in their sector to ascertain their concerns and opinions.

The government then also submits its formal salary offer at this stage for all relevant staff levels.

After receiving all the evidence from the affected groups, pay review bodies then recommend what the level of pay should be.

What happens once the recommendations are made?

The government chooses when it will respond and publish the reports written by the pay review bodies.

Secretaries of state usually respond to recommendations by issuing a written ministerial statement to parliament.

Overall, the recommendations are accepted by the Secretaries of State, but there have been times when they have overridden the recommendations.

Sectors can disagree with wage changes and can strike over the decision, but the government has the final say.

The latest salary increases will likely be implemented in the fall but may be backdated to early April, the start of the fiscal year.

Are there pay control bodies for all public sector jobs?


Civil servants who are not part of the senior civil service have their remuneration set by the various departments, in accordance with guidelines issued by the Cabinet Office and the Treasury.

Local government staff (not teachers) have their pay determined by their employers and unions.

The devolved governments – Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales – set their own pay policy for the public bodies under their control.

Comments are closed.