Skip to the content

Details regarding redundancy payments to MPs' staff after the General Election
CAS-19996
Disclosure Date:10 Jul 2015
Categories: MPs' STAFFING
Exemptions Applied: Cost limit
Request

You made a number of requests, relating to the communication of change to MPs, the communication of change to staff, the communication of change to nominated office managers and the number of MPs and staff affected.

Response

Background

By way of background, since May 2010, all new staff employed by MPs have had to be on an IPSA-approved model contract. We did, however, honour contracts from the previous Parliament. In some cases, these contracts contained salaries which were above IPSA’s pay ranges for the particular job description.

In the IPSA contracts, redundancy payments were initially set at the statutory minimum. The standard provision for pre-May 2010 contracts were also set at the standard statutory redundancy amount. After consultation in 2011-12 (as part of an in-depth review of staffing) redundancy pay in all IPSA model contracts was increased to twice the statutory minimum. This was announced in the March 2012 report on the review of the Scheme, and took effect from 1 April 2012. You can view a copy of that report on our website, at the following address: http://parliamentarystandards.org.uk/transparency/Pages/Corporate-reports-and-publications.aspx.

All MPs were at liberty to transfer their staff from pre-2010 House of Commons contracts to IPSA contracts. This had been the case from the start of IPSA’s operations. However, to avoid the risk of staff remaining on old contracts which paid above the IPSA pay ranges and then switching at the last minute to IPSA contracts to gain the benefit of double statutory minimum redundancy payments, we set a cut-off date for moving onto IPSA contracts. The cut-off date was 14 November 2014.

I will take your requests in turn.

Communication of change to MPs

  • Please set out when and how the option of higher redundancy payments under revised IPSA contracts and options for staff on non-IPSA contracts was communicated to individual MPs.
  • Please provide copies of the letters, emails and newsletters in which this option/policy change was set out – with dates and – in my case – details of where the communications were sent.
  • Please set out what checks IPSA made to ensure that IPSA were themselves assured that every MP was indeed aware of this issue.

As noted above, the amendments to staff redundancy terms were first announced in the March 2012 report on the review of the Scheme, a link to which is provided above. This was followed up in bulletins sent to all MPs on 29 March 2012 and on 1 May 2012. In your case, the bulletins were sent to your parliamentary email address, [email address redacted]. You can view copies of these bulletins on our website via the following links:

We also wrote individually to all MPs on 6 March 2012 regarding the changes. Please click here to view a copy of that letter alongside this response.

In addition, upon reaching the cut-off date of 14 November 2014, the option was again communicated to all MPs in the bulletins sent on 6 October 2014 and on 4 November 2014. You can view copies of these bulletins on our website via the following links:

Further, all MPs who announced that they were standing down from September 2012 onwards were briefed in person on the changes and the cut-off date. It was also communicated to a meeting with MPs’ staffing group on 20 August 2014, which was attended by a representative from the Unite union.

In terms of checks, having communicated the changes to MPs on four separate occasions over two years, liaised with the union and discussed in person with all standing down MPs, we were content that MPs were sufficiently aware of the issue.

Communication of change to staff

  • Please set out when and how this change was communicated to individual staff of MPs.
  • Please provide copies of the letters, emails and newsletters in which this policy change was set out and – in the case of my staff – details of where the communications were sent.
  • Please set out what checks IPSA made to ensure that IPSA were themselves assured that every member of staff was indeed aware of this issue.

Members of staff employed by MPs who opted to receive the IPSA bulletins would have received the same bulletins mentioned above.

Members of Parliament are the employers of their staff and it is their responsibility to conduct employment matters with their staff, including changes to employment contracts. In some instances, employers may not have considered it favourable to amend contractual terms, and we did not therefore consider it appropriate to discuss these options with MPs’ staff directly.

Communication of change to nominated office managers

  • Please set out when and how this change was communicated to nominated office managers and in particular to [name redacted] for my office.
  • Please provide the records you held that [name redacted] was my nominated office manager.
  • Please provide copies of the letters, emails and newsletters in which this policy change was set out and – with dates and details of where the communications were sent to [name redacted].
  • Please set out what checks IPSA made to ensure that IPSA were themselves assured that every nominated office manager was indeed aware of this issue, including [name redacted].

As noted above, MPs are the employers of their staff and it is their responsibility to discuss contractual changes with their staff. IPSA proxies, as members of staff, may have had the bulletins provided above sent to their parliamentary email addresses, if they opted to receive IPSA bulletins.

Number of MPs and staff affected

  • How many MPs had their staff on (a) non-IPSA contracts; (b) IPSA contracts on each of the following dates:
    • May 2010
    • May 2012
    • May 2013
    • May 2014
    • November 2014
  • How many MPs who lost their seats in the May 2015 General Election had their staff on (a) non-IPSA contracts; and (b) IPSA contracts.
  • Of those non-IPSA contracted staff whose MPs lost their seats in the May 2015 Election, how many were (a) on IPSA salary bands (b) on salaries higher than IPSA salary bands?
  • What would be the cost of changing IPSA’s policy so that EITHER (a) all non-IPSA contracted staff whose MPs lost their seat in May 2015 had their redundancy paid at the level of IPSA contracts; OR (b) all non-IPSA contracted staff whose MPs lost their seat in May 2015 – and who were on salaries within IPSA salary bands - had their redundancy paid at the level of IPSA contracts?
  • For each figure provided in answer to 4. Above, what proportion of the total cost of winding up and redundancy payments etc., to IPSA would this extra cost represent?

In order to provide the information you have requested relating to the number of MPs with staff on IPSA or non-IPSA contracts on each date, we would be required to manually search through every single staff contract that we hold. Complying with this request would considerably exceed the appropriate cost limit of £450 (part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Freedom of Information Act). Consequently, IPSA is not obliged to respond to this request (see section 12(1), FOIA).

Of the MPs who departed in the 2015 General Election, there were 47 MPs employing a total of 85 staff on non-IPSA contracts. Of these, 31 were outside of the IPSA salary bands and 54 were within. 178 MPs employed a total of 800 staff on IPSA contracts[1].

We do not hold information on the cost of changing our policy so that all non-IPSA contracted staff whose MPs lost their seat in May 2015 had their redundancy paid at the level of IPSA contracts. However, of the 54 staff who were not on IPSA contracts but were within IPSA salary bands, 17 possessed letters confirming changes to their terms and conditions which were signed in 2012. Although these do not have the legal effect of transferring their House of Commons contracts to IPSA contracts, we have decided to honour these letters. The cost of granting these 17 staff members double statutory redundancy is £96,940.

We have not yet completed paying all of the redundancy payments, so are unable to provide the proportion requested in the fifth part of your request.

 

[1] 44 MPs employed some staff on IPSA contracts and some staff on non-IPSA contracts, and are therefore included in both figures.