Managing Pay Appeals

Its that time of year when performance related pay decisions will have been made for teachers. These decisions are sometimes disputed and where these cannot be resolved, lead to pay appeals. Where appeals are lodged, to is important that they are managed promptly and in accordance with established processes.

Robust policies will help avoid and manage pay appeals

Good pay policies will set clear any reasonable criteria for pay progression. Effective performance management processes will set robust yet fair objectives and include regular review and feedback with the employee so that there are no surprises when it comes to pay recommendations.

Where these procedures are in place pay appeals are rare. Schools and academies must nonetheless have a process for dealing with Pay Appeals. This is usually within the Pay Policy, but in the absence of a formal appeals process, may be raised as a grievance by an employee.

Grounds of appeal

Any employee can make a formal appeal against any decision on pay.  Appeals processes should specify valid grounds of appeal.  The Teachers Pay & Conditions Document suggests the following grounds.

That the decision maker(s):

  • incorrectly applied the provisions of the Teachers’ Pay & Conditions Document / local terms and conditions
  • failed to have proper regard for statutory guidance
  • failed to take proper account of relevant evidence and/or took account irrelevant or inaccurate evidence
  • were biased; or
  • otherwise unlawfully discriminated against the employee.

The role of the panel

The role of the Pay Appeals Panel is not to make their own judgement about a teacher’s performance or that of the teacher’s manager/headteacher.  The Panel’s role is consider whether the pay and performance management policies have applied appropriately.  This includes considering:

  • whether clear performance targets were set and performance discussed with the teacher during the cycle;
  • whether performance was assessed against the criteria set out in the pay policy;
  • whether the evidence taken into account in making judgements was appropriate and relevant;
  • whether there is any evidence of bias or discrimination.

The decision

If the panel is satisfied on all points, it is likely that the appeal will be rejected.  If not, this does not automatically mean a pay increase should be agreed.  Performance must still warrant the increase and the panel should not substitute their own judgement on this.  Where procedural flaws have occurred the panel should ask headteacher, or where bias or discrimination is indicated, an independent leader, to review the evidence and their judgements and make a new recommendation to the panel.

Following any pay appeal, successful or not, it is advisable to reflect on policies and procedures to ensure that they are fair and robust and most importantly that they are applied properly and consistently.  Most appeals are rooted in flawed processes and communication rather than solely in a disputed judgement about the individual’s performance.