Job Evaluations

1 May 2024

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Adam Keppel-Green FSLCC, Local Council Consultancy (LCC) Associate and Clerk to Knutsford Town Council in Cheshire, asks “are you wondering if you’re paid fairly as a clerk? When was the last time your role was subject to a proper job evaluation?”

A job evaluation is how we determine the correct salary for a role. It takes a detailed look at a role (or roles) at a specific point in time (with an eye to the future) to determine what salary should be attributed to the post. Undertaking these evaluations is one of the main pieces of work I do as an associate of SLCC’s consulting arm, Local Council Consultancy.

2005 National Association of Local Councils (NALC)/SLCC agreement
In 2005, SLCC and NALC reached a groundbreaking agreement with the development of a job evaluation scheme, designed to provide consistency across pay in our sector, ensuring roles were remunerated at a rate appropriate for their scale. This is the current agreement and what we use to undertake evaluations*. It sets out four profiles (LC1-4) and eight attributes of each, such as knowledge required, level of independence of the role, and responsibilities. This gives us 12 salary ranges – from LC1 Below (SCP 5-6) to LC4 Above (SCP 55-62).

Job evaluation process
Undertaking a job evaluation requires a deep dive into the role. When appointed to undertake a review I head to the council’s website to get an understanding of what it does. No council is the
same, and I look at how big the community is, what services/assets the council runs, how active it is, and what’s in its budget. This helps me get a feel for demands placed on the role. I’ll ask the clerk to help fill any gaps from information not on the website – such as asset registers and job descriptions. Next up is a meeting (usually by zoom to save travel costs) with key personnel – including the clerk and other staff being reviewed. I also meet with the council and/or staffing committee chair and, if there are ‘difficult’ councillors or those opposed to a review/of a differing political group, I look to meet with them too to ensure all feel heard in the process. The meeting aims to cement my understanding of the council and its roles, what has changed at the council and what known/unknown change could be on the horizon.

What factors impact the evaluation?
There are eight areas that are looked at:

  • The depth and specialisms of knowledge required to fulfil the role – influenced by the size of the community and the services the council delivers
  • The complexity of the role and mental skills required
  • Breadth of required communication skills (factoring in number of meetings held)
  • How much independence and delegated authority the role has
  • The role’s impact on the wellbeing of others – such as health and safety or services it delivers
  • Staff responsibilities
  • Financial responsibility
  • Resource/asset responsibility

To determine appropriate salary banding we assess how the role scores on each area (such as LC2 Upper) based on the 2005 agreement. Some aspects can be straight forward, but others may involve a degree of judgment. When appraising a non-clerk role, we usually start by applying the scheme, adjusting it as necessary, and factoring in support provided by the clerk and other officers. For less clerk-like roles, the NALC/SLCC scheme might provide a basis, but I also look to benchmark it against comparable roles in the relevant industry – i.e. grounds maintenance. There’s an oft mentioned rule of thumb that a deputy should be on 75% or two-thirds of the clerk salary – however, we always undertake an appraisal of the specific role to ensure it has the correct grading.

The result
The result is a report appraising the role with a recommended salary grading, submitted in draft form to the clerk to fact check, making sure there are no errors of understanding, before it is finalised for the council to consider and implement!

*It is almost 20 years since the job evaluation scheme was implemented and it is now in need of renewal to ensure it delivers the original objective of ensuring roles are properly remunerated. This is something that the National Association of Local Councils (NALC) and the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) have committed to delivering this year.