The union is also seeking members’ views on taking industrial action – action short of a strike (work to rule) and/or strike action.
The offer, which covers members in the core department, the Animal and Plant Health Agency, the Veterinary Medicines Directorate and the Rural Payments Agency, includes:
- A minimum award of 2.35% of base salary – only staff at the very bottom of their pay range will receive this award as a consolidated payment; staff higher up their particular pay band will receive a smaller amount consolidated, with the rest as a single, non-consolidated payment.
- Pay range maxima for the AA to EO grades will increase by 0.5%; the pay range maxima for the HEO to G6 grades will increase by 0.25%.
- Pay range minima for the AA grade will increase by 3%; by 2% for the AO to EO grade and by 1% for HEO to Grade 6.
- Non-consolidated, performance-related awards (to those who receive the highest marking) will also be paid to AO to EO (£830); HEO to SEO (£1,200) and for G7 to G6 (£1,950).
- The ‘closed’ Veterinary Officer (VO) pay range will be formally frozen, members in this pay range will only receive a pensionable, non-consolidated award of 2.35%.
The Treasury and Cabinet Office pay guidance earlier this year told departments they could make awards of up to 2% of their paybill.
Departments were also given the opportunity to make a business case to the Cabinet Office to spend more than this 2% limit.
Prospect negotiator Dave Allen said: “It is bitterly disappointing that Defra refused to make a case to the Cabinet Office to increase the pay award for its staff.
“Instead, the department sought and received early ministerial approval for a 2% award without waiting for formal pay negotiations to start. We are sure that members will share this anger and frustration at the department’s position.
“We recognise that the department has made some minimal moves within the constraints of the self-imposed 2% limit by raising the pay range minima and moving away from an initial proposal to deliver no award to the VO grade. But the offer does very little to address the decline in members’ living standards.
“Many long-serving members at the top of their pay ranges will once again receive little or no consolidated and pensionable pay awards.
“Freezing the VO pay range is also unacceptable and is an insult to our members in that grade,” Allen concluded.
The ballot will close on 29 November.