Public Sector Pay Policy set for 2019/20

Date published: 31 October 2019

In keeping with the overarching policy set by the UK Government, the Department has confirmed the policy continues with the same approach set in 2018/19 of moving away from a cross-public sector pay policy of limiting average awards to one per cent.

Instead pay awards can be informed by a range of factors, including recruitment and retention. In particular it is recognised there may be flexibility in return for improvements to public sector productivity.

The planning assumptions for Budget 2019/20 were generally predicated on a one percent revalorisation increase. When added to the pay progression many public sectors workers will also receive, this typically translates to around a two percent increase on the 2018/19 baseline pay position. 


Funding for these pay awards will have to be found within existing departmental budgets and prioritised against the other pressures facing essential public services. There is also flexibility for higher awards in return for cash releasing efficiency savings through improvements to public sector productivity.

With pay policy now in place for 2019/20, this will enable public sector employers to engage with their staff groups and develop pay proposals for implementation and approval. We aim to improve the pace with this round of negotiations.

For next year we will be agreeing pay policy much earlier and will align its setting with the publication of the Budget. This means pay policy for 2020-21 will be set at the same time as the Northern Ireland Budget and should also enable some employers to consider a multi-year deal.

The NICS Board is keen that there is engagement prior to the setting of the 2020-21 Budget. As part of this, DoF will be commissioning a study to examine the labour market and other issues that affect public sector pay in Northern Ireland.    

Notes to editors: 

1. Public Sector Pay Policy would normally be agreed by the Finance Minister.  The Northern Ireland (Executive Formation and Exercise of Functions) Act 2018 enables the Department to make this decision.

2. Pay Remit Approval Process and Guidance 2019/20 https://www.finance-ni.gov.uk/sites/default/files/publications/dfp/fddof1019.pdf

3. Pay awards will vary depending on the specific contractual arrangements of individual staff groups.

4.  Revalorisation is a percentage increase on all pay points. Progression is the cost to the organisation of staff moving one point up a defined pay scale.

5. Multi-year pay awards for 2019/20 & 2020/21 could be considered once the 2020/21 pay policy is set as part of the forthcoming NI Budget for 2020/21.

6. The Terms of Reference for the Public Sector Pay Study are currently being finalised. This study will consider cost of living factors and pay differentials across sectors, and in different parts of the UK.

6. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance Press Office on Telephone: 028 9081 6724 or email: dof.pressoffice@finance-ni.gov.uk. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.

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