suella boris employment

Oh noes


Dozens of employment lawyers working for the Government Legal Department have accused it of pay discrimination and warned that unless their concerns are addressed they may take their case to the Employment Tribunal.

Following anger over salary revelations last year, more than 30 employment lawyers working for GLD have submitted a grievance to Susanna McGibbon, the Permanent Secretary of the Government Legal Department.

The lawyers are Grades 6 and 7, which designate "experienced officials with significant policy responsibilities".

A source within the Civil Service said the letter was "incendiary" and that "scores of lawyers are now all considering taking out their own grievance over pay", adding that it was "remarkable that the government has managed to piss off its own employment law function" so much "that it's going to end up in litigation".

In the letter, the lawyers accuse GLD of allowing "enormous" disparities in pay to develop between government lawyers who carry out similar work.

"For example, there is a white female grade 6 lawyer (with no declared disability) earning £86,000 per annum, whereas the vast majority of grade 6 lawyers, a large percentage from ethnic minority backgrounds, are paid in the region of £65,000", they state in the letter seen by RollOnFriday.

Freedom of Information requests submitted by GLD lawyers also revealed that their counterparts at HMRC, the CPS, the Pensions Regulator, the FCA, Ofgem and Ofcom "are paid significantly more than lawyers employed by GLD". GLD lawyers who didn't join it from other government departments are particularly prone to a pay gap, says the letter. 

"The Grade 6 equivalent pay scale at the Pensions Regulator does not even overlap with the GLD pay scale: the bottom of their scale is above the top of ours", it states.

GLD bosses had attempted to justify paying some of its lawyers more than others on the basis that "they joined GLD on higher salaries from other Government Departments", and blamed the Cabinet Office for refusing to provide funds to lift its lawyers' pay scale, according to the grievance.

The signatories have given the GLD 21 days to respond, saying they anticipate that more of the service’s 1,500 lawyers will seek to join their group action if it proceeds to the Employment Tribunal.

A spokesperson for the Government Legal Department said, “GLD does not comment on grievances as we are bound by the requirement on all parties to ensure confidentiality in the process”.

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Comments

Anonymous 24 June 22 09:55

Should probably just move to another job for higher pay - oh wait they're GLD lawyers, they're not employable anywhere else

Anonymous 24 June 22 10:05

The FDA union circulated the news of this grievance a couple of weeks back in an email to all its members. Pretty much everyone at GLD now knows about it, whether you are part of the Union or not. The next few months are going to be very interesting with regards to others getting in board. 

 

Good work from the FDA anyway for having some balls over this. 

Livid lawyer 24 June 22 10:21

It's very clear to me as a GLD lawyer (who actually enjoys their job and the people they work with) that GLD has now run out of road and there is zero goodwill left towards management. This development is way, way overdue and I hope the treasury solicitor has to go through the unedifying experience of giving evidence at an employment tribunal. It might humble her a bit and make her realise that she doesn't walk on water and her awful awful emails saying how great everyone is butter no parsnips and don't pay the bills.

Anonymous 24 June 22 10:41

Some amazing consecutive emails from Susanna over the past two days:

Email one: prepare for 20-40% of you to be shitcanned. Haha!

Email two: here's our brilliant vision for GLD over the next year - delivering ever more work at an ever more relentless pace! More work! More hours! More impossible deadlines! More batshit policies! For the same pay! LOL! OK guys have fun!! P.S. - I unilaterally declare this to be a *brilliant* place to work :-) :-)

Government lawyers are definitely the punchline to a very unfunny joke

Anonymous 24 June 22 11:13

@09:55 I'm sure magic circle firms are just falling themselves to hire you, an anonymous RoF shitposter

Anon 24 June 22 12:57

Re: @09:55

The comment is in bad taste and rude. But gaining experience in the GLD employment team is not going to enable you to secure a role at an international law firm that pays NQs £80k plus, that’s why GLD lawyers continue to work for the GLD on £65k. It’s the public sector.

Hardly any of the GLD lawyers trained at international law firms. 

Paul 24 June 22 13:15

Not convinced this is suitable for a group action. There is no duty to pay people fairly. It would be for each individual to show that they are paid less due to a protected characteristic.

Anonymous 24 June 22 13:23

Government lawyers' salaries have been allowed to drift ever downwards, and the disparity becomes particularly acute in areas like Ofcom where the specialists they want to be able to hire have directly equivalent jobs in corporate law firms- which is why they're getting the "big" bucks.

While they're totally underpaid and you might be able to put the issue under a discrimination heading, it's really a function of austerity and piecemeal attempts to make up for it in order to get the staff in.

Anonymous 24 June 22 14:56

@12:57: “hardly any GLD lawyers trained at international law firms” 

Don’t know where you’re getting your data from. My team is about 80 people and about 1/3 are refugees from City firms who after working private practice hours for several years thought “fuck that, I’d rather see my kids”. Sadly most fled from one ship taking on water to another.
 

The last 4 years have been completely relentless and most people in my team have been working private practice hours for less than half the pay. The only “reward” is the occasional “love2shop” £50 voucher thrown at them and a “great job guys!” email from Susanna every couple of months. Senior otherwise management shrug their shoulders on pay, and schedule another “mental health” seminar to try and slap a plaster on a gunshot wound. It’s bad. 

Anonymous 24 June 22 15:13

Imagine sitting next to someone, doing exactly the same job, working just as hard, yet they are paid £20k or £25k more than you imagine how you would feel?

Imagine sitting next to that same person and working even harder than them, taking on even more responsibility than them, starting work earlier than them and finishing work later than them, and being paid £25k less than them?  

You might understand how some colleagues are feeling right now.

Anon 24 June 22 15:31

GLD lawyers are lucky to be on £65k. They are relaxing like most public sector workers, that’s why so many of them are on this site today downvoting fair minded and reasoned comments.

Anon 24 June 22 15:33

GLD lawyers got nothing better to do today it seems, other than visit this site. Do some work - my tax is paying your wages.

US associate 24 June 22 15:41

Well not just GLD lawyers, most of the UK firm lawyers won’t make it to a US firm that pays £150k plus NQ. Government lawyers are inherently remunerated less, but in return they have a life outside of work which US associates, unsurprisingly, don’t. 

Rule of Flaw 24 June 22 15:46

The GLD will never be a great place to work whilst it is run by spineless individuals who will not back their staff to deliver independent legal advice.  Anyone who is any good, who has stuck around this far because they believe in public service, will leave because there is no reason to stay.  They don't even have the decency to pay a decent wage to rubberstamp the repeated assaults this Government makes on the rule of law and the public that GLD is meant to serve.

Anonymous 24 June 22 15:53

It is so weird to me the level of disdain towards government lawyers. Government lawyers don’t leave (or haven’t) despite the pay because their work is so interesting, diverse and generally of fundamental importance, which is not the same for a lot of other lawyer roles. Also, don’t you want top lawyers working for the Government? Low pay drives down quality, why would people want the civil service to not attract the best minds? It’s embarrassing that lawyers in private practice try to put public sector lawyers down, stay in your own lane. You probably wouldn’t get through the recruitment process with that outlook and attitude anyway. 

Anonymous 24 June 22 16:18

"You probably wouldn’t get through the recruitment process with that outlook and attitude anyway"

 

You are probably right. 

I shall now cry salty tears of shame, with only £20 notes to use as tissues.

What a hard life it is, to be so bereft of talent and yet so overburdened by money. I weep for what might have been.

Anon 24 June 22 17:41

I worked for a Magic Circle firm for 9 years before joining the civil service, later transferring into GLD.  I left for many reasons, but largely because I was bored out of my mind.  I worked with many clever and capable people in the City, but there were also large numbers of utter dimwits who were either good at schmoozing, or very well connected, or just prepared to work long grinding hours doing soul destroyingly repetitive work.  The hours were long, but I can count on one hand the number of times I engaged more than about 25% of my brain.   Wherever you go, there's a mix, incl at gld.  But in my experience, many of the experienced lawyers I've seen in action in govt would be QC's or professors if they were not doing what they do.  The work is relentlessly challenging and you just can't get away with anything other than 100% concentration.  I'm sorry, but most of the lawyers I've worked with personally in government would wipe the floor with about 70% of the partners in city law firms.

risky. 24 June 22 17:58

Weird to compare salaries with lawyers who specifically aren’t civil servants (eg fca, ofcom, etc)

GLD 24 June 22 18:16

The reason people work for the GLD employment team is because it's difficult for them to get a role at the big employment teams such as: DLA, CMS, Eversheds, Dentons, Clyde, Pinsents, DACS, Addleshaw, Squires, and MC/SC. (let's not even get into US law firms). It's dificult for them to get a role at a City firm too, because the calibre/type of work, clients and environment (9-5 chill). This is the reality - it's not a criticism on intelligence, just experience. 

Karen GLD 24 June 22 18:18

ROF deleted my comment exposing a Karen within the Team (her name isn't Karen). She just suffers from Karenitis - the snob, think she's racist too.

Law firm lawyer 24 June 22 18:21

I worked with  employment GLD lawyers. Some are nice/professional, but some are so insecure and unprofessional. Very tight on budget - stingy. Trying to take food off law firms table when the government departments authorised costs, not sure why GLD started crying about it. Government departments should send work directly to law firms rather than to GLD.

Albert S 24 June 22 19:38

I’ve been a government lawyer for 15 years or so having joined from the City. The comparisons between public and private sector lawyers are very tedious and don’t get us anywhere. For what it’s worth, I think the majority of my colleagues could easily hold their own legally   in any company but they tend not to be commercially minded which seems fair enough. What I would say about GLD is that the quality of the current leadership is not a patch on what it  was when I joined. Some  great leaders have been allowed to drift away and the current crop are really uninspiring which certainly doesn’t help morale.

Out of the frying pan? 25 June 22 10:33

This thread is illuminating. I'm devouring the posts from you GLD/ex-GLDers as I'm at a crossroads.

I've been in private practice my whole career, which has been varied - legal aid firms, a couple of boutiques that serve the ungodly wealthy, an international firm in the city. I haven't been paid what I'm worth at most of these firms (finding out what your colleagues are on is a big eye opener). 

I'm admittedly idealistic. I want to do interesting work and help people. Corporate, insurance, transactions are not for me. I didn't get into law for a huge pay packet, but I don't want my employer to take the piss either. 

I'm making a move but I don't know where yet. 

I've got an offer from GLD (not on employment team), grade 7, salary just under 51K. 

Also have an offer from a top 45 firm in the city, doing public sector work. They have promised me fascinating and high profile work. Had to be pushed to 60K. Pension is pretty basic but there are some benefits like critical illness cover, private health care, etc. 

Taking pension into account, GLD is better total compensation - for now. City salary would increase regularly, but so would targets. 

Do I try to climb up the greasy pole or do I  accept what are clearly serious issues in GLD? Is there any prospect of GLD getting its act together and paying what govt lawyers are getting outside the GLD? 

Rose 25 June 22 22:44

Not sure what the legal basis of the claim would be? Doesn’t seem to be based on gender so not equal pay nor other protected characteristic.. unless they’re all going to resign once their grievance is ignored and claim con. dismissal.. good luck with that one! However they are the employment solicitors so perhaps they could clarify

Daniel 25 June 22 23:17

@Albert 19:38

It's hard to compare with the old leadership because we have no leadership now. Instead we get crappy emails from the treasury solicitor telling us our below inflation pay rise is on hold yet again because they were resubmitting a pay deal proposal that we all know is going to be used as bog roll in treasury.

I'm just praying that they offer voluntary redundancies to keep JRM happy with his civil service reduction. I will jump at the chance, though I imagine there will be many many people fighting for it. Everyone I speak to is just holding on in the vain hope that this unethical evil group are removed at the next election

 

 

@anon 10:05

How can you congratulate the FDA for having balls. They will have done very little towards this challenge which will be led by the employment lawyers themselves. What they need to do is actually ballot on work to rule/strike action. But when we suggested that when the last pay deal was refused (along with rather unsavoury comments from ministers) they said they didn't want to rock the boat and flat out refused to discuss any action. They are in bed with ministers as far as I'm concerned and that meeting was my final one as a member. They're a joke.

 

Anon 26 June 22 20:21

@daniel yes I remember. The comment was something like there is a recession in the post so we will still be able to pay peanuts and recruit as people will be desperate to join. Something like that. Really nice and classy thing to say. 

 

There is a lot I could say about this grievance but I wont for now. suffice to say this has not just been cobbled together it has been very carefully thought out and there are many moving parts to it. And I suspect gld senior management and the cabinet office are shitting themselves over it. 

anon 30 June 22 12:58

I have some perspective on this topic. Trained and qualified at a MC firm, worked in a mid sized UK city firm and for a couple of US firms. Also worked in the public sector for two government departments (part of what was the GLS, now GLD).  I offer some thoughts below, based on my experience. 

The legal work on offer at the GLD generally (well, it certainly is in my practice area) immeasurably better than it is in private practice. As some GLD lawyers have commented above, anyone from p/p who says p/p is better in terms of quality of work has either: (i) never worked in the GLD; and/or (ii) or has a really high boredom threshold/is a bit dim. Therefore, in my opinion, for someone that has experienced both working environments, there isn't even a comparison to be made - it's like night and day. 

On quality of people - I would generally say that in both p/p and GLD, it's like any work place and it's a mixed bag. It also depends how you judge/assess quality of people. In terms of pure legal skills/knowledge - I worked with some incredible government lawyers who I learnt a lot from. But I also worked with some government lawyers who were generally borderline incompetent. Ditto re: p/p. I definitely think working at GLD made me a much better well-rounded lawyer (but again, in my practice area).

On work-life balance and hours worked - again, it's mixed bag. It's a myth that all government lawyers are lazy and don't work hard (in my view). While I did observe a lot of people coasting when I was at GLD, I personally worked incredibly hard and a lot of my colleagues worked hard too. In general, though, the work-life balance in the GLD is much better than it is in p/p. The main issue you have at GLD (and this is what I think is driving some of the comments above re: quality of people) is the metrics for measuring performance are completely different from p/p and require adjustment. Based on my experience, there were GLD lawyers who didn't do much legal work but sat on lots of committees (some completely pointless), did lots of "corporate" contributions etc who were seen as the best thing since sliced bread who were really valued but other lawyers who were great lawyers but didn't do the "corporate" contribution to the max that weren't valued as much. I'm not sure if the metrics have changed since I left (2019) but if they haven't they need to change. 

On the thorny topic of pay (and this was one of the factors that made me return to p/p alongside lack of progression - see below), the leadership at the time (and it seems this is still the case) don't really get it because they get paid (I'm talking deputy director and above i.e. the ones who generally make the decisions)  a reasonable salary in my opinion (when you factor in the pension - £70k basic - it will vary between the different government departments). But the lawyers doing all the work (i.e. Grade 6s and 7s) who joined comparatively recently (post 2015) don't get anywhere near the same pension benefit as Grade 7s and 6s that joined before that date.

So when you look at all the factors, the trade off between the better work-life balance and the pay, it doesn't add up but, of course, that depends on what stage of life you are at, your own financial circumstances, your lifestyle etc. It does not surprise me at all that the issues on pay have come to a head because it has been brewing for years and, as per the above point, the leadership/management really don't get it. One GC in one of the government departments was a former City partner at a top firm and has millions in the bank. That is a simple fact.

The biggest issue at the GLD (and this is the main reason I left) was the lack of progression (and with it pay - the two are linked) in a reasonable period of time. As per the comments above, once you are at deputy director level in the GLD, you get paid well for a pretty decent work life balance and an interesting job. The problem is that creates a bottle neck for people that want to get on and progress because, in my experience, those deputy directors stay in post for years and they have no incentive to retire or move because of the way the pension works (if they work longer, their career average earnings are higher and they retire on more all for doing what is a pretty interesting and decent job in my view). 

Bottom line: GLD does need to pay its lawyers more and until it addresses this, it will continue to experience talent drain with people leaving//legal action which is the subject of this news story. 

 

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