A job vacancy on www.civilservicejobs.service.gov.uk, seen in February 2017, featured text that stated “HOM/399/17 Criminal Investigator Immigration Officer x3 - Croydon Home Office Closing date 6 March 2017 … Salary £26,866-£30,896 Grade Executive Officer, Immigration Officer Contract Type Permanent …”.
The complainant, a civil servant, who understood that the salary for the job was indefinitely fixed at the minimum amount quoted in the ad, challenged whether the claim “Salary £26,866-£30,896” was misleading and could be substantiated.
The Home Office stated that their vacancies were advertised on ‘Civil Service Jobs’, which followed the recognised format for displaying salary information across the Civil Service. As part of the ad, candidates were given an information booklet which provided them with additional information on the role including how pay was reviewed annually and subject to collective bargaining, and that any pay increase was at the Home Office’s discretion.
The Home Office used pay ranges when advertising posts to ensure that applicants were aware of the maximum salary for the post. Once in post, staff moved up the pay range through increases in pay, subject to the annual pay remit given to the Home Office by HM Treasury and negotiation with the Trade Unions. However, there was no contractual entitlement to pay progression and any pay increase was at the Home Office’s discretion.
The Home Office stated that all civil servants were subject to pay awards, in line with guidance from the Cabinet Office, which confirmed that departments should no longer have automatic pay progression. At present, public sector pay awards were limited to an average pay award of 1% – although that did not mean that everyone received such a pay increase, as funding was applied in a targeted manner.
The Home Office explained that staff would normally join on the minimum of the pay range, but could be paid a higher amount that was up to the maximum allowed in the following circumstances: joining on level transfer from other Government Departments, in which case their pay would be maintained at its current level; on promotion (either internal or from another Government Department) in which case their pay would be the higher of (i) the minimum of the pay range or (ii) their current pay point in their substantive grade plus 10%; or in exceptional cases, those joining from outside the civil service where there was evidence that the individual had experience or skills, might start on a salary higher than the minimum.
Within the Home Office and most other Civil Service departments, advertised jobs sat within a pay range and at a particular grade. Criminal investigator immigration officer (CIIO) was a job title and one of many different executive officer jobs (EO), which paid within the Home Office EO pay band, as quoted in the ad (£26,866–£30,896). In total, there were around 3800 London based EOs and 2154 of those were employed as operational immigration officers in a range of different roles, including CIIOs. The Home Office provided data showing the salary range in each quartile of the pay band for all types of immigration officers they employed in London. They believed this demonstrated that their CIIOs were not just receiving the minimum salary that fell within the EO pay band.
The Home Office stated that progression through pay ranges was subject to the annual pay award and dependent on performance, affordability and public sector pay policy. They provided data to show that in 2016, staff in the EO grade (including CIIOs) received an increase of 0.8–1.1% depending on their position in the pay range, with those towards the bottom receiving the greater increase. Furthermore, they provided data showing that within the Criminal Investigation teams based in the London region, they currently employed 90 Immigration Officers who received a salary that fell within the EO pay band.
We considered that candidates would interpret the text “Criminal Investigator Immigration Officer … - Croydon Home Office …” along with the claim “Salary £26,866-£30,896” to mean that the advertised role was based in Croydon (London) and paid between £26,866 and £30,896. Furthermore, they would understand that they could potentially earn up to £30,896 over a prolonged period of time if they started at a salary which was below that amount.
We understood that pay progression for the job was at the Home Office’s discretion, but that they believed that they had CIIOs being paid above the minimum salary.
The breakdown of data the Home Office provided showed that they employed a total of 2154 Immigration Officers in London, with 90 working as CIIOs and that they fell within the EO pay band of £26,866–£30,896. Furthermore, we understood that the data also showed that all EOs received a pay increase of between 0.8% and 1.1% in July 2016, with the maximum increase also given to those who were at the lowest end of the EO pay spectrum. However, given that the ad was for a CIIO vacancy based in London, we considered that we needed to see data showing that those specific Immigration Officers based in London were being paid between the minimum and maximum salary quoted in the ad.
We noted that the breakdown of data further showed that a minority of CIIOs (4.4%) were on the minimum salary of the EO pay band (£26,866), and that the majority (42.2%) were paid up to £27,889, with the second highest proportion of CIIOs paid £27,889–£28,891 (27.8%). Furthermore, a higher number of CIIOs fell within the salary ranges in the mid and upper quartiles of the EO pay spectrum compared to those who received the minimum salary for the post. We considered this, along with the 1.1% pay increase all EOs had received in July 2016, indicated that the salary for the job was not indefinitely fixed at the minimum amount quoted in the ad and that CIIOs could potentially earn up to the maximum of £30,896.
Because of that, we considered the Home Office had provided adequate evidence to substantiate the claim “Salary £26,866-£30,896” and we therefore concluded was not misleading.
We investigated under CAP Code (Edition 12) rules
Marketing communications must not materially mislead or be likely to do so.
Before distributing or submitting a marketing communication for publication, marketers must hold documentary evidence to prove claims that consumers are likely to regard as objective and that are capable of objective substantiation. The ASA may regard claims as misleading in the absence of adequate substantiation.
Employment marketing communications must relate to genuine vacancies and potential employees must not be asked to pay for information.
Living and working conditions must not be misrepresented. Quoted earnings must be precise; if one has to be made, a forecast must not be unrepresentative. If income is earned from a basic salary and commission, commission only or in some other way, that must be made clear. (Employment, homework schemes and business opportunities), but did not find it in breach.
No further action necessary.