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Joined: 09/03/2009
Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has announced that people working in the Northern Ireland Civil Service (NICS) through the Employment Support scheme will benefit from the recently announced equal pay settlement.<

The Minister made the announcement following a visit to Disability Action in Belfast, where he met some of those employed through the scheme.

The Employment Support (ES) scheme aims to help people with severe disabilities find and stay in meaningful employment. The NICS currently has 65 people who are supported via the ES scheme. The decision to include this unique group of staff in the equal pay settlement means they will be entitled to receive increases to pay and lump sum payments in line with eligible NICS employees.

The Minister had the opportunity to meet some of the people affected by his decision and said: “It is only right that the service of this unique group is recognised and included in the settlement, since they are already entitled to the same rate of pay as NICS staff. I want to ensure that the NICS has a fair pay and grading system that meets all our legal obligations, which is why I announced last year the intention to undertake a comprehensive review of the pay and grading structures within the NICS.

“The work of Disability Action is invaluable in helping people with a disability find or remain in employment. This brings benefits not only to the individual, but also for the employer - providing them with the opportunity to recruit or retain the skilled individuals they require. The NICS sees the value of this type of scheme as do many other employers across Northern Ireland.”

Notes to editors:

  1. The NICS equal pay settlement was agreed in December last year after intensive negotiations between Department of Finance and Personnel officials and the Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (NIPSA). The terms of the settlement were negotiated to settle around 4,500 equal pay claims lodged by NIPSA on behalf of mainly female NICS staff in the Administrative Assistant (AA), Administrative Officer (AO) and Executive Officer 2 grades. The terms apply to all eligible staff in the grades affected and include the implementation of new pay scales and a lump sum settlement amount.
  2. The Employment Support scheme is run by DEL and aims to help people with severe disabilities find and stay in meaningful employment. Those on the scheme have their performance output measured as being between 30% and 80% of that which might be expected from a non-disabled person. However, regardless of their measured output capacity, under the terms of the Employment Support scheme they receive 100% salary at the same rate of pay as staff, with the NICS paying a proportion equivalent to the output capacity and the Employment Support sponsor organisations, of which Disability Action is one, making up the shortfall.
  3. The NICS currently has 65 people, mostly in the junior grades of Administrative Assistant and Administrative Officer, who are supported via the Employment Support scheme.
  4. Not all of these people are directly employed by the NICS so it was unclear whether they were entitled to the settlement given their employment status. However, people placed in the NICS under the ES scheme have individual contracts with their Department which ensures they enjoy terms and conditions broadly similar to NICS staff. In line with the terms of the ES scheme, the NICS has, until now, paid all ES workers on the same pay scales as NICS employees and honoured any accrued salary and annual leave entitlements on the same basis as NICS employees. It was due to this unique status that the Minister decided to include this group of people.
  5. Media enquiries only to DFP Communications Office on 028 9052 7374 or 028 9052 7375. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be return.<