The proportion of highly-paid public sector employees is broadly in line with the private sector Keys members have been told.
Ramsey MHK Lawrie Hooper wanted to know what proportion of public sector workers earning more than £50,000 per year could be regarded as ’front line’ staff.
Policy and Reform Minister Chris Thomas told him the answer hinged on how he chose to define ’front line roles’.
For example he said in the UK Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary defined this as employees who ’make difficult decisions enforcing the law, managing or supporting police operations, holding prisoners in custody and responding to calls from the public’.
By contrast, he told members the Queensland local government of Australia defined it as: ’All of our staff in the public sector.’
This was later revised he said to mean roles directly delivering services to the public, and could include staff such as nurses, doctors, police and critical front-line support services such as hospital and school cleaning staff, for example.
Using the revised Queensland definition, he said a total of 657 employees earned more than £50,000 per year and, of those, 55 per cent could be said to work in ’front line roles’.
This percentage equated to 364 posts and, breaking this down further, included 126 people in the medical profession, 72 people in the teaching profession, 66 in the civil service and 47 in the nursing profession.
Mr Hooper questioned whether 55 per cent of the total who were not engaged in providing front line services was a reasonable proportion.
Mr Thomas said the public sector had already been under much pressure following reviews.
’After five years there is not much slack there and we now have to focus on the good value that public servants provide,’ he said, adding that under the original Queensland definition it could be argued that all public sector employees were in front line roles.
Douglas North MHK David Ashford pointed out that as a proportion of the total number of public sector employees (not just those in so-called front-line positions) those earning more than £50,000 represented about about four per cent.
’If my maths are correct, that matches pretty favourably with the private sector,’ he said.
Mr Thomas reminded members there were about 8,000 public sector employees in the island.
Mr Thomas said there was a pay premium for the public sector, to some extent reflecting higher educational qualifications of some of the staff employed.