COVID-19 – Self-Isolation
As the country is in the middle of a second lockdown, we have become aware of members who are being asked to self-isolate due to the increased use and improved reliability of the test and trace app. If the reason for self-isolation is due to contact whilst on duty, we believe that for pay purposes this should be treated as a work-related injury. For On-Call members self-isolation could lead to a loss or reduction of earnings within their primary employment, if this is the case and the contact has been made whilst on duty our view is that the fire service employer should be providing the necessary compensation to ensure that the member is not financially disadvantaged while self-isolating.
If you require further assistance or advice on this matter, please contact your local FRSA official.
Modified pension scheme – second options exercise
To provide you with a further update regarding the modified pension scheme and the potential opportunity to buy retrospective pensionable service prior to July 2000. I can confirm that since the last bulletin we have again met with representatives from the government to progress talks further.
As per our previous statement, talks are confidential and nothing is agreed until everything is agreed, suffice to say as each meeting passes more progress is made and an end is insight. Talks are continuing around the eligibility criteria for members to be able to access a second options exercise along with the mechanism and process to deliver this outcome.
We are frustrated not to be able to provide you with more detail, just as much as you are frustrated at not being able to receive this information. But please be assured that representations are being made with your best interests, and as soon as negotiations are concluded successfully, we will be the first to provide our members with the necessary detail.
In the meantime, we thank you for your patience.
Pay for Availability (P4A)
The Association has for many years been an advocate of formulating bespoke contracts as viable alternatives to the Retained Duty System (RDS) model, where it has been seen not to provide a successful and sustainable method of recruiting and retaining On-Call firefighters.
There have been many pilots, trials and tweaks in various fire and rescue services over the years but the recent change in Devon and Somerset known as P4A, has the potential to have a positive impact across the UK. Our red lines on such models have always been; maintaining standards of training and health and safety, minimum pay levels, increase appliance availability, and improve recruitment and retention of operational staff.
The P4A model has been formulated in partnership with Devon and Somerset FRS over many months and while not perfect, we believe is an improvement on the Grey Book model.
Most importantly, when presented with the facts (rather than misinformation) our membership responded 99% in favour of the new system, which rewards availability rather than activity, up to £3 per hour at premium periods of demand.
We genuinely believe that P4A breaks the mould and could be a ‘game-changer’ with regards to overcoming the gradual decline of On-Call availability that has dogged the fire service for decades, providing a duty system that is fit for the 21st century. Naturally not all stakeholders are in favour of such a transformation that moves away from the rigidity of the Grey Book, but we must not continue to be hamstrung by a set of national conditions that were written decades ago when the fire service and society, was very different to that of today.
We will continue to push the boundaries and seek to develop new ways of working that are beneficial to our members and keep the fire service relevant in a modern society.
Our offer to you
A new information leaflet is available encapsulating the key benefits of being a member of the FRSA. The document is available via our website and we would recommend that this is shared with your colleagues on station.