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Overpaid Local Government Chief Executives? The Solution is Litigation

Posted: Friday, 4 January 2019 @ 13:43
The recent announcement from Eric Pickles that he would amend the Decentralisation and Localism Bill,to require a full council debate whenever an authority plans to hire a new employee on a salary of £100,000 or more has certainly got some attention.

He recently said: ‘Local government jobs will now have to be “democracy-proofed” before mega salaries are paid out. Councils need to make sure they don’t sully their reputation by taking decisions behind closed doors to reward chief executives when they should be focusing resources on protecting frontline services.’

Whether the high salaries of local government are morally justified is a matter of opinion.

Where this is headed is certain.

Namely, into litigation between the chief executives of the local authorities and their employer, e.g the taxpayer.

It is worth reflecting that in principle, a pay cut cannot be imposed without an employee's consent.

You can try to reduce the salary but if you do not have consent, you are entering a war zone.

No employee has to accept the proposed change, unless bound by a collective agreement.

If the employer makes the pay cut without the employee's agreement or by formally terminating and replacing their contract, the employee may either make it clear that they are working under protest, or resign on the grounds that the employer has breached their contract of employment by imposing a unilateral change.

A likely scenario is in the employee alleging constructive dismissal.

It will be interesting to see how much the inevitable litigation ends up costing the tax payer as compared to the desired pay cut!

Justin Patten
Employment Solicitor