In January Prospect members, who are managers and professionals in BT, accepted an overall pay rise of 2.5% for 2018 and the same again for 2019.
While recognising that there has always been some manager discretion in the way pay increases and bonuses are distributed, the union is unhappy about BT proposals to widen that discretion.
BT’s pay and bonus proposals have been laid out in matrices that differentiate between individuals whose performance has been rated by their manager as “brilliant”, “good work” or “work to do”.
The amount an individual would receive would depend on their position in the pay range and performance rating, with those in the “work to do” group receiving no pay rise or bonuses.
National secretary Philippa Childs said: “Our concerns relate to the rate of pay progression, equal treatment and the potential for conscious or unconscious bias to be a factor in awarding increases.
“Prospect has worked very hard over the years to address equal pay concerns and we’re worried that the introduction of more discretion could result in a widening of the gender pay gap.
“During the discussions on the matrix we argued for a narrowing of the discretion and even suggested an alternative matrix that could be applied in making awards.
“But while we made some progress we were ultimately unable to reach agreement because of our outstanding concerns. For example, we think that it’s unacceptable that a manager in benefit band one (BB1) with an end of year performance rating of ‘good work’ may receive an increase of just 2.2% towards the bottom of their pay range and someone in benefit band two (BB2) only 2%.
“Equally worrying is the amount of discretion in relation to bonuses, which could leave good performers receiving nothing and consequently feeling undervalued and demoralised.”
Prospect also pressed for BT to retain a separate equal pay review, with extra funding, but the company was unwilling to do so.
Childs stressed that Prospect will ask BT for data once the award is implemented, and will survey our own members, to assess the impact on fairness.
If you work for BT and are not a member, please join Prospect to stay informed and have your say during this difficult and uncertain period.
Prospect has written to all BT members with more details; logged in BT members can also download that communication here.