The C&RT bonus culture

March 2018 - A Gender Pay Gap statement issued on 8 March shows that the Canal & River Trust is still operating a bonus culture, writes Allan Richards.

The statement, whilst demonstrating a clean bill of health on gender pay, reveals that more than four in ten staff received one or more bonus payments in the 12 months to April last year. The statement is confirmed as accurate by the Trust's Chief Executive, Richard Parry.

Changes in legislation mean that, from 2017 onwards, private and voluntary-sector employers in England, Scotland and Wales with 250 or more employees must calculate their gender pay and gender bonus gaps as they are on 5 April each year. The information generated must be published before March 30 the following year.

Acas (who provide information, advice, training, conciliation and other services for employers and employees) and GEO (the Government Equalities Office) suggest that the data is published as soon as possible. However, this advice appears to have been ignored by the Trust who waited almost a year and then provided a press release linking its delayed publication to International Women’s Day.

Employers are required to publish six figures;

1. average gender pay gap as a mean average
2. average gender pay gap as a median average
3. average bonus gender pay gap as a mean average
4. average bonus gender pay gap as a median average
5. proportion of males receiving a bonus payment and proportion of females receiving a bonus payment
6. proportion of males and females when divided into four groups ordered from lowest to highest pay.

It took just a few seconds with a calculator to find that a high number of the Trust's workforce is being paid bonus. ​
C&RT operates two bonus schemes. One is an ‘Annual Bonus Scheme’. This allows a single bonus to be paid based on the performance against yearly personal targets. It is understood that not all staff are eligible.

The second scheme is the “Thank You Award Scheme”. This scheme allows all staff to be awarded one or more bonus payments each year. The statement issued by C&RT says that individual payments made under the “Thank You Award Scheme” are much less by value than those under its ‘Annual Bonus Scheme’.

Under the above schemes payments were made to 690 Ca&RT staff in the 12 months up 5 April 2017 (this more or less equates to C&RT's 2016/17 financial year). Put another way, C&RT made one or more bonus payments to 40.7% of staff. The statement made by C&RT does not include the total amount paid in bonus paid to these 690 staff.

The reason that so many staff are being paid bonus may be partly historic. When BW became C&RT bonus arrangements for staff were continued under TUPE. With directors, some changes were made to salary and bonus arrangements. However, all directors transferring were eligible for bonus payments.

Most charities do not pay staff or directors bonus believing recognition, encouragement of staff and better opportunities for personal development, can motivate employees more effectively. Then there is the vocational aspect. Those working in the charity sector do so, in part, because they believe in the purpose and goals of the charity.

What about public perception? Would you donate to a charity that feels it has to pay 40 per cent of its staff bonus to motivate them? Would you give your time without payment (i.e. volunteer) so that a director or member of staff can be paid bonus?

If one reads C&RT’s 2016/17 annual report, there is scant mention of these bonus payments. We are told that C&RT’s Remuneration Committee, consisting of three Trustees, is responsible for bonus schemes:

'The Committee determines the overall reward and remuneration strategy for the Trust, including any annual or periodic pay award. It approves the design of, and determine targets for, any performance related pay scheme operated by the Trust for any Executive Directors.'

However, just one of the 690 members of staff paid bonus warrants a mention. Stuart Mills, Property Director and the Trust's highest earner, was given a bonus of £24,491 to add to his basic salary of £164,499, pension allowance of £7,107, car allowance of £9,768, benefits in kind of £2,022. On top of his total salary of £207,887) a further £57,366 was paid into his pension fund.

Is it not about time that C&RT stamped out this bonus culture and finds a way of motivating staff that is more in tune with being a charity?

Photos: (1st) Published figures to celebrate International Women's Day, a year after they were collected, (2nd) Gender Pay Gap Compliance statement, (3rd) Richard Parry signed off the documents, (4th) Stuart Mills - paid £24,491 bonus.

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