Wednesday, 13 March 2019

FAQs: Backdated Pay and Universal Credit


If you receive Universal Credit the amount you get changes if your take-home pay changes.  This includes awards of backdated pay.  If you get additional pay within a Universal Credit assessment period (month), your Universal Credit payment will either be less than you normally receive or your income may be too high to qualify for a payment. 
Universal Credit is calculated on your personal circumstances.  Because of this we don’t know how individuals may be affected.   

Q) Will the back dated pay award affect my Universal Credit Claim? 
Yes.  If your earnings increase or decrease your Universal Credit payments will adjust automatically, this will include any lump sum received from back dated pay awards.  

Q) How will my Universal Credit Claim be affected?
The 2018/19 Local Government pay settlement was agreed on 1 February 2019 and is scheduled to be in place and paid, with a backdated award expected at the end of March.  This increase together with the backdated payment means you will either receive less Universal Credit than normal or you may even earn too much to qualify and your Universal Credit claim will close.  If your claim closes, you will see a message on your UC Journal telling you about this.

Q) How Do I Reclaim Universal Credit?
Log into your UC journal and select the “Reclaim” tab. You will find this at the bottom of the screen. This will take you to a new screen where you will be asked to answer a few simple questions. If you have any problems doing this, contact your Work Coach or visit your local Jobcentre Plus. 

You can access your UC Journal at www.gov.uk/sign-in-universal-credit

Q) Do I need to inform Universal Credit of my backdated pay award?
No, the Council’s payroll team supply Pay As You Earn (PAYE) information to HMRC on or before the day you are paid.  You may have seen this referred to as Real Time Information (RTI).

HMRC sends relevant data on Universal Credit claimants to DWP on a daily basis (4 times a day). This means the information supplied will be with DWP on the same day or on the next day, at the latest.

Q) What is a work allowance in Universal Credit?
If you and/or your partner are in paid work you may be able to earn a certain amount before your Universal Credit payment starts to be affected. This is called a Work Allowance.
There are 2 Work Allowance rates. Which one you get depends on whether your Universal Credit payment includes help with housing costs:

·       If you receive money to help with housing costs your Work Allowance will be £198 per month
·       If you do not receive money to help with housing costs your Work Allowance will be £409 per month

Q) I have a work allowance, how will the back dated pay award affect my Universal Credit?
For every £1 you earn above your Work Allowance, your Universal Credit payment will be reduced by 63p.

Q) I am still concerned how this is going to affect me.  Who can I turn to for help?

Angus Council’s Welfare Rights Service can provide further advice and assistance in this matter.  They offer a free, confidential and impartial service with issues related to welfare rights and money/debt advice. You can contact them by clicking this link:

An overview of Universal Credit can be found at  www.gov.uk/universal-credit

Tuesday, 5 March 2019

BRANCH TREASURER

As some of you may know, our Treasurer stood down at the end of February after keeping the Branch's accounts up to date and accurate for over two years.
Are any of you as UNISON Angus members interested in carrying out this valuable and necessary role? There is a Branch Officer Training Weekend on 10 – 12 May in Glasgow where there is training delivered and we have great working relations with the Treasurers at both Dundee City and Aberdeenshire branches. 
If you want to talk over the opportunity before coming to a decision, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with us!

Tuesday, 19 February 2019

UPDATE: REVIEW OF SOME ANGUS COUNCIL AND ANGUSAlive TERMS AND CONDITIONS

Thank you so much to everyone who took the time to complete our survey on the proposals by Angus Council and ANGUSAlive to change some of your terms and conditions. We've now emailed you the results which clearly reflect our members dissatisfaction with every proposal put forward.
This morning we met with Angus Council senior managers and shared these results with them, along with a number of anonymous comments on the proposals which stated quite clearly what many of you think about the detrimental impact these proposals will have on your terms and conditions. Having discussed the issue, UNISON Angus, along with GMB, consider the survey of members and sharing of results with the employers as being part of the 'collective bargaining' arrangements that exist between us and we now await further information from the Council and ANGUSAlive with regards to their intentions about the proposals. As soon as we know what that is, we will be back in touch with you all.
Some of you will have today read that following last night's Dundee City Council Policy & Resources Committee, your fellow members in Dundee City Branch have been the subject of a direct attack on their terms and conditions without any consultation from the employer at all. We are in solidarity with each and every one of them in standing up in opposition to what has happened. We will work hard to fend off the proposed changes to terms and conditions in Angus - changes that will directly impact on you - and we know from your responses to the survey that our members will stand up in opposition to the proposals too should that need arise. We are all 'the union' and everything we do collectively can make a difference.
We'll keep you posted.

UNISON ANGUS AGM

A reminder to all our members that the UNISON Angus Annual General Meeting will be taking place on Wednesday 27 February 2019 at 6pm in St Andrew's Church Hall, Hamilton Green, Arbroath. A buffet will be available from 5.15pm. This is your opportunity to have your say on the challenges we continue to face due to continued cuts to services and jobs.
The agenda and papers were emailed to members on 8 February - if you didn't receive a set please contact us by replying to this post or emailing office@unison-angus.org.uk and we'll get them to you. If you're coming along and haven't told us yet, please do let us know and also if you have any dietary requirements for the buffet.
Thanks!

Wednesday, 6 February 2019

UNISON GUIDANCE ON THE EU SETTLEMENT SCHEME & SETTLED STATUS

UNISON have produced a helpful informative publication for European (EU) citizens on the Settlement Scheme and Settled Status.
If you'd like a copy please let us know by leaving us a message below this post or email the Branch Office at office@unison-angus.org.uk.

Wednesday, 23 January 2019

ANGUSALIVE: PROPOSALS TO CHANGE SOME TERMS AND CONDITIONS



Proposals were tabled by Angus Council before Christmas to change a number of the current terms and conditions for local government staff employed by them. We have subsequently been advised by Kirsty Hunter, Chief Executive, that she also now intends to propose the same changes to some of the terms and conditions of staff employed at ANGUSAlive.
We emailed all our ANGUSAlive members yesterday with the details and a link to a survey where you can anonymously share your views on the proposals. If you didn't get the email, plese let us know and we will end it again. Alternatively, the survey can be found by clicking the image below and is open until Tuesday 12 February 2019:

The proposals were reported to UNISON Angus as follows:

Background

A review of terms and conditions of employment for Local Government Employees and Chief Officers has been carried out in light of the ongoing requirement for the council to become more efficient and cost effective whilst ensuring compliance with equal pay legislation and maintaining equity and fairness. This paper details the current position and proposals in the following areas :

  • Working arrangement allowances
  • Designated Public Holidays
  • Excess Travel
  • Business Travel
  • Subsistence
  • Salary Protection
  • Work life balance and wellbeing.

Working Arrangement Allowances

Current Position

At present, if required to work on a public holiday as part of the normal working week or if called out in excess of one hour an employee will be paid double time for all hours worked.  They will also be given time off in lieu (TOIL) as follows: 

  • a half day off if the time worked was up to half of their normal day;
  • a whole day off if the time worked was over half of their normal day.

Proposals 

  • If required to work on a public holiday as part of the normal working week or if called out in excess of one hour, an employee will be paid at double time in complete recompense for all hours worked;
  • TOIL in relation to public holiday working will be an alternative to payment (rather than in addition to enhanced rates);
  • All TOIL will be calculated on a basis equivalent to hours worked with no enhancement (currently one hour overtime attracts 1.5 hours of TOIL);
  • Time of less than 30 minutes in any day will not rank as overtime (currently 15 minutes) and this will apply to all staff (UNISON Angus queried the current situation and were advised that at present, time of less than 15 minutes is paid as plain time);
  • No overtime will be claimed by LG12 and above. TOIL may be agreed in exceptional circumstances (currently overtime may be approved following submission of a report). To ensure consistency all requests must be dealt with in conjunction with a nominated Senior HR Officer.

Designated Public holidays

Current Position

There are currently seven public holidays (pro rata for part-time employees). These holidays are fixed by the council and advance notice is given of when they fall each year. 

Public holiday dates are currently :

1 and 2 January each year or if on a weekend the next 2 working days thereafter;
The first Monday in April;
The first Monday in May;
30 November or the Friday following the 30 November and;
Christmas Day and Boxing Day each year or if on a weekend the next 2 working days thereafter.

Proposals  

·        Reduce the number of public holidays from 7 to 4 with the April, May and St Andrew’s day public holidays being re-designated as annual leave (not public holidays) (UNISON Angus queried the start date for this proposal should it be accepted -  the Council stated they would want to  replace the St. Andrew’s Day holiday with an annual leave day in 2019 in order to realise some savings. The removal/replacement of the other 2 public holidays and proposed Christmas closure wouldn’t start until January 2020);

·        The 3 designated days above to be taken on the 3 working days between Christmas and New Year.  (UNISON Angus asked if there could be any individual variations to this proposal e.g. if a member was able to work from home; the Council stated this would be highly unlikely);

·        For some services it will not be feasible to close between Christmas and New Year. It is therefore proposed that feasibility is considered operationally and where necessary the three days leave between Christmas and New Year is taken at another agreed time. (UNISON Angus had clarification from the Council that the days could be taken at any time as a 3 day block or individually, subject to the demands of the Council’s service delivery).

Excess mileage

Current  Position

Excess mileage is paid for a maximum of 2 years at 25p per mile.  (Clarification has been sought by UNISON Angus that the £5 weekly deduction would no longer be applied; we await a response).

Proposal

·        Reduce excess mileage payments from 2 years to 1 year and the rate from 25p per mile to 12.6p per mile with effect from 1 July 2019.  This will apply to all staff who are required to change base and who incur additional expense as a result.  It is not anticipated that this will impact on any particular groups more than others unless there are proposals to relocate particular groups on a regular basis.

Subsistence

Current Position

The current rates are £6.50 for lunch and £20 for evening meal.

Proposal

·        Realign subsistence allowances to reflect agile working practices and HMRC rates, and only where costs have been incurred on meals which would normally have been taken at home to:  Breakfast rate: up to £5, One-meal rate: up to £5 (5 hours absence), Two-meal rate: up to £10 (10 hours absence) and Late Evening rate: up to £15).  Restrict to meals taken outwith Angus and Dundee City boundaries. (The amount spent by members would be evidenced by the production of a receipt. The inclusion of Dundee appears to be based on the number of meetings involving Angus staff that take place there, but we have asked for further explanation and clarification on the reasoning for including Dundee).

Salary Protection

Current Position

Salary protection following a reduction is provided for 1 year.  

Proposal

·        Reduce period of protection from 1 year to 6 months for employees whose salary is reduced from 1 July 2019 onwards.


Work life Balance and Wellbeing Proposals

The following proposed enhanced and new provisions will be developed further, in partnership with health, other colleagues and trade union representatives. These are all aimed at supporting employees to achieve the best work life balance for their own personal circumstances, to allow them to support the communities they live and/or work in and to develop professionally or personally in whatever they choose. Maintaining a healthy workforce is beneficial to the council as well as employees and these provisions would help to create a positive working environment and ensure our employees feel valued. It is recognised that there will be indirect costs for services if these proposals are agreed but it is also anticipated that there would be significant benefits to employees, the council and local communities.

Health & Wellbeing/Family Support Options

  • Review of council’s managing absence provisions to emphasise supporting employees at work and while absent and to include mental health and wellbeing support.
  • Supporting employees who are carers through the agreed Carers Support at Work Scheme (Human Resources lead).  Continue implementation towards the highest level of national Carers Positive accreditation.
  • Bereavement Leave (enhanced paid time off e.g. up to 5 days to support staff and record bereavement leave rather than signed off on sick leave)
  • Compassionate Leave (up to 10 days paid leave -  to support employees dealing with major unplanned family situations and record leave for such purposes rather than staff being signed off on sick leave)
  • IVF/Fertility Treatment (new paid leave to support one cycle)

Council/Community Support Options

  • Employee Supported Volunteering (ESV) – 2 days paid leave per year for employees to volunteer in partnership with VAA or to support the council’s own services
  • Foster/Kinship Carer Leave – paid leave to support the different stages of the foster/kinship process
  • Guaranteed Job Interview Scheme – extend to our employees who are carers (to remain in employment), young carers, looked after children
  • Emergency Donation – blood/bone marrow/organ donation – released immediately for the time required with pay.
  • Sporting Activities  – new paid/unpaid time for competitor/manager/coach – national and regional

Development in Work Options

  • Framework for Secondments – developing staff in all areas – more flexible workforce
  • Framework for Engaging Interns – supporting young people/students/those not in employment
  • Framework for Engaging Modern Apprentices – as above

So, please do take a few minutes to complete the survey which will inform and guide your union in responding to the Council’s proposals. Click the link below or at the top of this email to get started:

Wednesday, 9 January 2019

LEARNING OPPORTUNITIES WITH UNISON ANGUS


UNISON provides a wide range of learning opportunities for its members.

Two courses are being run at Angus Council this month and are open to members and non members alike. These are as follows:

Lifelong Learning Application Writing and Interview Skills

Either Monday 21 January 2019 – Bruce House, Arbroath or Monday 28 January 2019 – Angus House, Forfar

This course will help you with:

·        Application writing and interview skills;
·        Understanding and identifying Transferable Skills;
·        How to approach a job application or CV – and write it;
·        Preparing for interview and understanding what questions could be asked;
·        How to approach an interview and sell yourself.

Computers/IT for Beginners

4 day course on 21 and 28 January, 4 and 11 February at Bruce House, Arbroath

The course will help you to:

·        Understand the basics of using a computer;
·        Be able to use the internet and send e-mails safely;
·        Be able to write and save document;
·        Be able to use software packages effectively;
·        Keep information safe and secure.

For more information and how to apply for this course please contact Angus Council’s Organisational Development at alwayslearning@angus.gov.uk or phone UNISON Angus on 07999 344300.

And if you have colleagues or members of staff who you think might benefit from attending a face to course like those above, please share this information with them.

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