National E-Bulletin – May 2019

Modified Pay Success in Cumbria

Following a grievance raised by the FRSA, relating to payments to On-call staff when on sick and/or modified duties, the Cumbria Fire & Rescue Service (CFRS) undertook a detailed review of payments made to their On-Call employees whilst on modified duties.
Over a number of weeks CFRS worked closely with the FRSA to understand the differences raised through the grievance process. This close working relationship allowed a review of absence payments and highlighted that the same calculation for sick pay was not being utilised when calculating payments for modified duties.
CFRS considered the position and a decision was taken to make backdated payments to On Call staff who have been on modified duties. While employment legislation stipulates time limits relating to backdating payments, to their credit CFRS decided to make backdated payments to all eligible employees from April 2013, the date when the On-Call working arrangements local agreement was originally applied.
All eligible staff will now be written to individually and will receive the full amount owed to them, this totals over 140 On-Call firefighters with the highest individual backpayment exceeding £15,000.
CFRS has also reassured our members that following the grievance and the subsequent review, the Service has, from the 1st April 2019, made changes to ensure that their On-Call staff receive adequate payment when they are on modified duties.
In response to this decision, we have  expressed our appreciation to the Service for the manner in which the original grievance was managed. The overall conclusion demonstrates how important it is for an employer and representative body to work together in a professional and meaningful manner to provide the correct resolution to staff within Cumbria.
There were a significant number of On-Call personnel who were affected by this issue and we are very pleased that we have been able to achieve the right outcome.

Police/Firefighter Roles - Our View

Over recent weeks we have noticed media interest in the dual role of an On-Call Firefighter and Special Police Constable (SPC). The background to this initiative relates to the Blue Light Collaboration Team in the South West Region which included Devon and Cornwall Police (DCP) and Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service (DSFRS). The Police and Crime Act 2017 introduced a duty on the Police, Fire and Rescue and Ambulance Services to collaborate to improve efficiency and effectiveness. In DSFRS funding was agreed to create a 2-year pilot to introduce 14 On-Call firefighter posts working a 21 hour contract to provide fire cover across the service, keeping On-Call appliances on-the-run in high risk areas which otherwise would not be available. In addition these posts have the following objectives:
  • improve the ability of both services to identify risk and vulnerability
  • increase the ability to deliver holistic community safety activities to homes and businesses
  • sustain response times in rural locations
  • improve connectivity with the public
  • increase public confidence in both our emergency services.
 The role of a SPC being undertaken by an On-Call firefighter is no different to any other member of the public who wished to undertake this voluntary role in addition to their normal occupation. It seems logical for an emergency service worker to perform, on a voluntary basis, the role of another emergency service worker and utilise their transferable skills in the process.
Our view is that this initiative, which is one of many undertaken by DSFRS, should be welcomed by the public, the services involved and our members. The dual role of On-Call firefighters and Police Community Support Officers (PCSOs) have been successfully in operation over a number of FRSs in recent years and this pilot is a variation on that model. It would appear that any negative publicity has been created by organisations that oppose change and modernisation of the firefighter role. In contrast the FRSA fully support this pilot which provides more opportunities for our members and improves public protection.

Case histories

We find that current members are always interested to hear about the case work we undertake within the FRSA, which also acts as a good advertisement for potential members to see how valuable membership can be.
We’ve selected eight of the more interesting cases we’ve dealt with over the last 12 months, while we and some of our members would like to have their details included in these real cases, we believe it would be inappropriate to name individuals or services.
However, we can guarantee that these cases are 100% genuine and are not unique to the work we undertake on behalf of our members 365 days a year.