Letter: Sheehy report shows ignorance

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Sir: The recommendations of the Sheehy report for performance pay for the police, and Michael Howard's support of those recommendations ('Howard acts to soothe police fears of reform', 20 July) reflects this government's obsession with the introduction or extension of performance pay for public servants. It is of increasing concern to managers and unions who have to deal with the reality of industrial relations that this obsession has little to do with clear organisational objectives or good management practice.

There is no objective evidence that the introduction of individual performance pay motivates individuals to higher performance, and its imposition in the public service will do nothing to further the Government's avowed aim of improving the provision of public services. In fact, it has enormous potential for destroying employee morale and undermining relations among employees, management and unions.

Mr Howard's statement that it is important to have a 'direct and strong connection between the responsibilities and rewards' either reveals his confusion about payment systems or his shifting stance on the issue. Most payment systems, including that in the police, already link remuneration to the 'weight' of jobs - of which responsibility is often one element. However, this has nothing to do with performance pay, which is about performance of individuals in their jobs, at whatever level of responsibility.

Public-sector pay has already been used this year as a lever for macro- economic policy. Mr Howard and other ministers should now desist from meddling further in it by imposing individual performance pay systems on the employees, managers and unions who have established systems of pay determination which they are capable of changing if needed through proper consultation and negotiation amongst the parties - not through government diktat.

Yours sincerely,

BILL BRETT

General Secretary

Institute of Professionals, Managers and Specialists

London, SE1

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