Lawyers will be lawyers, even when protesting
Senior government lawyers have been offered a 16% pay rise over two years. But the lowest-paid lawyers and non-lawyer staff have been excluded from the offer.
The rise for seniors comes after 30% of Government Legal Department (GLD) lawyers said they wanted to quit their jobs over poor pay, in a recent survey. Salary has been a sore point for GLD lawyers for some time, and a number of them accused the government of pay discrimination last year.
A senior GLD lawyer told RollOnFriday that they were "happy...for once" with the "positive" pay rise. The insider shared an internal email with RollOnFriday, stating that Grade 6 and 7 lawyers have been offered “average pay increases of 8% per year for the next two years" to run from April 2023, in addition to the 3% increase which was brought in last August.
However, the source added that "the fly in the ointment with the announcement is that the cabinet office and the treasury have excluded the lowest paid from this pay award" who will "only get the standard 3% pay award".
"Whilst I am relieved and happy I'm going to be getting a significant pay rise," the senior lawyer told RollOnFriday, "I feel absolutely appalled for the lowest paid members of staff in the organisation who mostly do a fantastic job for shit money." The source added that "the lowest paid have been totally shafted," as those lawyers and non-legal staff, who make up over a third of the GLD workforce, will miss out.
In the internal email to GLD staff, seen by ROF, Susanna McGibbon, the permanent secretary, said that although the pay offer for seniors was a "positive achievement", she was "sorry that it falls short of our full case which sought significant improvements for all colleagues.” She added: “The Executive Team and I know how disappointing this will be to many of you and we share that disappointment.”
The deal, which is subject to consultation with the trade unions, would see junior lawyer salaries in London increasing to a minimum of around £61,000 (currently £52,015) up to a maximum of £74,000 (currently £62,830). Outside London, the salaries for juniors would increase to a minimum of around £59,000 (currently £50,455) up to maximum of £71,000 (currently £59,740).
Senior lawyer salaries in London would increase to a minimum of around £74,000 (currently £65,647) up to a maximum of £83,000 (currently £77,456). Nationally, senior lawyer salaries would increase to a minimum of around £71,000 (currently £62,348) up to a maximum of £80,000 (currently £73,130).
A GLD spokesperson told RollOnFriday: “A pay offer has been agreed for some lawyers across Government Legal Department, in order for Government to have access to the legal talent it needs. No new money has been allocated for this increase, which is being funded through efficiencies."
RollOnFriday contacted the FDA, the trade union representing civil servants about the GLD offer, but the union said that it could not comment at this stage, as the negotiations for the pay deal were yet to commence.
The pay negotiations for lawyers comes at a time when the government has had to deal with discontent staff walking out over pay (or threatening to do so), across the public sector: including nurses, firefighters, teachers and criminal barristers.