Too many clerks and governance professionals are not being paid at an appropriate level, or in some cases paid for all of the hours that they work, according to new research by the National Governance Association into the requirements of professional clerking and the implications for pay.

The ‘Putting a price on effective clerking’ report reveals that those employing clerks underestimate the actual amount of work involved in providing clerking/governance professional support by approximately two hours per meeting, leading to significant shortfalls in pay. It also reveals significant regional variations in pay. Approximately thirty percent of the advertisements reviewed by NGA stated the pay of the clerk/governance professional at or less than the equivalent of £10.50 per hour. The government’s national minimum living wage is currently £8.21 per hour.

Whilst being clear that there are circumstances where a higher rate of pay is justified, the report points to an hourly rate equivalent of no less than between £12.85 per hour and £14.74 per hour as being proportionate and reasonable for fulfilling the duties set out in NGA’s model job descriptions for clerking maintained school governing boards and academy trust boards.

These figures were reached following analysis of the pay being offered for similar roles in the national job market and a structured evaluation of the roles carried out in the NGA model job descriptions. NGA sought to gain an accurate perception of pay by conducting a nationwide trawl of advertised 163 clerking roles. This allowed for meaningful comparisons to be made between the requirements of those recruiting clerks and what they were paying them. The job evaluation process was based on a national framework that provided comparisons with five publically available local authority pay scales. It was also supported by an advisory group that consisted of governance professionals, service managers, specialists in pay and conditions and academic research.    

One of the key recommendations contained in the report is that those employing clerks/governance professionals should ensure that contractual arrangements consider the actual number of hours worked. The recommendations also emphasise the importance of clerks/governance professionals receiving an annual appraisal.

The research was conducted as part of NGA’s Clerking Matters campaign, which aims to raise the profile of clerks/governance professionals and increase understanding of the importance of their work.

Steve Edmonds, director of advice and guidance at the National Governance Association comments: “Professional clerking is an essential part of delivering effective governance. However, our report shows that in some cases we are short-changing these governance professionals. NGA accepts that a uniform pay structure is not achievable given the varied nature of the role, however we hope that our report will help inform pay conversations between clerks, those who engage their services and in particular we want to draw attention to those clerks/governance professionals who are paid less than the amount that we believe is reasonable and proportionate”.

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