Imagine that you want to give your workers a pay rise. But you don’t actually control their pay, someone a level above you controls that part of the budget. Bit difficult then, isn’t it? But then you realise that you do control some other part of working conditions. What you could therefore do is change some other part of the working conditions so that your workers are better off but without having to ask for that bound to be refused permission from the level above.
That’s what Lincolnshire Police have just done. They’ve increased the pay of their officers – by about 1% at a guess – without having to ask permission of the layer above them, the people who actually control police pay. They’ve done it by reducing annual working hours by about that 1%.
Police are to be given two extra days’ paid holiday per year to improve their “spiritual and emotional well-being”.
It’s hoped the initiative by Lincolnshire Police will ensure officers have sufficient rest and recuperation time. It’s a move which they say is a first for policing, and will help officers cope with the pressures of the job which are “taking a greater toll on them”.
The force believes the policy, due to be put in place in April, will put them in a better position to meet the “particular needs” of a “large rural county”.
Oh, yes, the other thing you’ve got to do is dress it up as something other than a pay rise.
This is all akin to how America ended up with the health insurance system it has. Back in WWII there were price controls, including upon labour. You weren’t allowed to raise the wages you paid people. As is always going to be likely when you drag all the young fit men off to foreign climes to shoot people there was something of a shortage of labour at home. As happens in such situations the price people were willing to pay therefore rose – but they could not raise the amount they paid. Health insurance payments weren’t capped while direct wages were.
It was thus possible to increase total compensation and gain labour without increasing cash wages. Those cash wages which the government controlled the amount of, the health insurance they didn’t.
Which is just what the police have got here. They don’t get an increase in cash wages because the central government isn’t allowing that sort of thing. But police in Lincolnshire now need to work two days less a year – around and about 1% of total annual working time – and that’s an increase in total compensation even if not in cash wages.
Don’t look at this as police getting extra days off because stress, instead this is police getting a pay rise without central government having to authorise a pay rise. It’ll still cost all of us more money of course, for we’ll have to pay for the extra police to fill the days off. But, you know, that’s just how it works. Prices will out whatever the politicians say about it and if we’ve a wages cap on the public sector then we’re going to see changes in compensation coming not in wages but in other aspects of the job.