National Update

National Update

Today is payday!

Today (01 July 2020) should be a good news day, a day when all firefighters across the UK receive notice of a pay rise as agreed by the NJC. However, this year, just like 2019, 2018 and 2017 no pay deal has been agreed and while any forthcoming pay rise will be backdated, questions must be raised as to why the NJC continues to fail the people it is supposed to represent.

The fire service has not received a meaningful pay rise for over a decade with all previous increases based on public sector rises. This begs the question as to what is the purpose of the representative body that sits on the NJC? You will have seen from previous communications that we continue to lobby local and national governments to reform the NJC as it is not fit for purpose. If you or your colleagues are also questioning why your salary is stagnating, and you want to do something about it, perhaps it’s time to move over to the FRSA and received the support and recognition you deserve.

Our view is that the firefighter role needs to be modernised in partnership with a new pay structure for frontline staff that is fairer, delivers improved rewards and provide greater opportunities. If you agree in this approach, join us today and help us deliver a better service for all.

Pensions - O’Brien Claims

To provide members with a further update on what is referred to as the O’Brien claims (accessing pensionable service prior to 01 July 2000) we can confirm that the intention is for the Home Office to engage with the relevant representative bodies to discuss eligibility and process this month (July).

We will then provide members with timely updates as discussions progress. However, rest assure that we be putting forward an argument that is in the best interests of our members past and present.

COVID-19: Quarantine on entering or returning to the UK

Following the latest government guidance, anyone arriving into the UK on or after 8 June 2020, will not be allowed to leave the place they are staying for the first 14 days. This will include firefighters travelling abroad who will be deemed as doing so fully cognisant of the quarantine requirements on re-entering the UK.

Accordingly, fire and rescue services may assume that an employee who travels abroad in full knowledge of the requirement to self-isolate on their return should be required to take additional leave (paid or unpaid) to cover the additional 14-day period.

While some FRS staff might have the opportunity to work from home (if possible and agreeable by their FRS), this will not be a viable option for the vast majority of operational firefighters.

The national arrangements do not provide a one-size-fits-all solution and FRSs will be expected to consider using a combination of some or all of the different types of leave options available such as:

      • take additional paid/unpaid annual leave
      • take special leave
      • make up the 14 days’ leave over a defined period of time

Employers may wish to give sympathetic consideration to certain circumstances which could include:

      • an employee who has extenuating circumstances such as a family funeral abroad
      • pre-booked holidays that cannot be cancelled without incurring financial cost (ie. insurers will not reimburse cost) that were arranged before quarantine could have been envisaged
      • pre-booked holidays that the tour operator has not cancelled but has instead rescheduled on fixed dates which, if cancelled by the customer, would be at financial cost to them

On-Call staff who have had to travel for the purpose of their primary employment and have to quarantine on their return, should continue to receive normal full pay.

Separately we have written to the Fire Minister asking for Fire Service Employees to be exempt from the 14-day quarantine rules.

Firefighter Retirement Programme - Call for Participants

Retirement involves a significant life change, and planning is key to making this transition a success. Using the latest research in psychology and health, the Fire Fighters’ Charity has developed an interactive online programme, the GROUPS 4 HEALTH: Firefighter Retirement.

This programme will assist in one aspect of planning — social planning — that can often be neglected, despite evidence showing this is an important predictor of good health in retirement. The GROUPS 4 HEALTH: Firefighter Retirement programme is a simple and intuitive on-screen experience. At the end of the programme individuals will be able to download a personalised report, which includes the key elements of programme, as well as your own GROUPS 4 HEALTH: Firefighter Retirement plan.

The Charity is looking for participants who have retired within the last 12 months. Participation in this study helps us to ensure that the programme is delivering this knowledge in the best way possible. In total, the study including the programme will take about 1h 45 minutes and can be administered online via a computer or laptop with internet access. Please use the link to get more information about the study and register for participating in the programme.

This opportunity to access the GROUPS 4 HEALTH: Firefighter Retirement programme has been enabled through a collaboration between The University of Queensland, Nottingham Trent University, and the Fire Fighters Charity. To   ask   questions   about   the   study   please   contact   the   study   leader   Neela   Muhlemann.

We highly appreciate your cooperation and help with this research.