Monday, 4 April 2011
A Preposterous Perk
Although I've been out of the employment market for a few years I shouldn't think procedures have changed too radically. Job descriptions continue to be the main source of information for those seeking work and these days many are available online as a download; a much faster system than writing to a personnel department requesting details.
Not only do job descriptions give the interested parties information about the position, but they provide details of working hours, salary and other benefits if any.
Local authority council leaders (chief executives) must be aware, prior to accepting the post, that very possibly they would be required to act as returning officers for national and local elections - including referenda - and the public would expect this particular duty to be covered by the very significant salary they receive. Not so. They are paid bonuses for undertaking this part of their job: eye-watering sums of money can be claimed.
The Westminster government sets the 'additional payments' for national elections/referenda and the Scottish parliament determines the pay for Holyrood elections. This year returning officers could receive well over the average annual salary for supervising the AV referendum with Scottish CEOs receiving an additional fee for declaring regional Holyrood results.
Glasgow's CEO, who supervises nine constituencies, could earn around £44,000 on top of his £170,000 annual salary with Edinburgh's CEO, looking after five constituencies, not far behind at around £34,000 in addition to her £158,000 annual salary.
The government say that the fees are 'only maximum amounts and returning officers were not required to claim the full pay-out'.
A Cabinet Office spokeswoman said:
"The fee is paid for the returning officer's responsibility for organising the election in their area from start to finish, including setting up polling stations, making arrangements for ballot papers and organising the count. It is expected that returning officers are mindful of costs throughout all of these stages and keep costs to a minimum." source
These fees/additional payments/bonuses are abhorrent. Returning officer duties should be included in the CEOs' salaries and any overtime involved with the task should be rewarded exactly as it is for other public sector workers.
More and more senior public 'servants' are behaving like bankers yet the public say little. There will be some who say without paying such salaries and perks local authorities would not attract the best people for the job. I disagree. Few council CEOs would achieve such pay outwith the public sector as most have gained their experience only within it and they certainly wouldn't receive the very handsome pensions and golden handshakes.