Public Sector Pay Policy set for 2021/22

Date published: 16 March 2021

The Executive has agreed the 2021/22 Public Sector Pay Policy. This will enable public sector employers to engage with their staff groups and develop pay proposals for approval and implementation.

Public Sector Pay Policy set for 2021/22
Finance Minister Conor Murphy

Making the announcement, Finance Minister Conor Murphy said: “The Public Sector Pay Policy is being set in the midst of a standstill budget from Westminster. The British Government’s proposal of a one percent award for health workers and a pay freeze for other public sector workers is disappointing.

“The Executive has decided on a different approach.  This pay policy will enable up to one percent awards where this is affordable and where there is a commitment to reform and efficiency initiatives. This will now pave the way for discussions between employers and trade unions. Health service staff will not be subject to the one percent limit.”

The Minister concluded: “Putting the 2021/22 policy in place now delivers on the New Decade, New Approach commitment for structures to be put in place to allow timely and fair public pay awards.”

Key aspects of the Pay Policy include:

  • An across the board public sector pay freeze as announced by the Chancellor in the Spending Review will not be imposed in Northern Ireland.
  • Pay awards of up to one percent will be allowed in addition to any legally entitled progression increases (which will typically result in an overall increase in the pay-bill of around two percent) where reforms are agreed.
  • Given the particular impact of Covid-19 on the health service, the one percent limit on pay awards will not apply to those staff groups. Rather the recommendations of the NHS and Doctor and Dentist’s Review Bodies, which have been asked to report by the Government, will be taken into account in the determination of those pay awards.
  • Continued progression of the Living Wage Foundation Living Wage.
  • Pay awards, including any higher awards proposed will have to be found from within existing departmental budgets or funded through efficiencies.
  • There is flexibility for higher awards in return for cash releasing efficiency savings through improvements to public sector productivity.

Notes to editors: 

  1. Pay Remit Approval Process and Guidance 2021/22 is available at
  2. Pay awards will vary depending on the specific contractual arrangements of individual staff groups.
  3. Media enquiries should be addressed to the Department of Finance Press Office on Tel: 028 9081 6724 or email Follow us on Twitter @dptfinance
  4. Follow us on Twitter @dptfinance
  5. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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