The Crown Prosecution Service was entitled to reduce the salary of a solicitor who moved to the north-east, an employment judge has ruled.
The claimant, listed as Mrs A McKenzie-Bayliss, issued proceedings alleging that her employer unlawfully cut her salary in 2021. The solicitor, who moved to north-east England from Bedford in 2017, argued that she should continue to be on the London salary because she was working for the CPS south-east region.
Dismissing the claim, employment judge Langridge ruled that the London wage was intended to reflect living costs in the south-east and that McKenzie-Bayliss’s salary should be in line with her permanent workplace. ‘Nothing in the documents supports the claimant’s argument that her pay should be based on the fact that her cases are handled in respect of the south-east region,' the judge said. 'The purpose of the two rates has no relevance to the type of work being done, only the place where it is carried out.’
Lawyers for the CPS argued that the agency’s approach to London weighting ‘adheres to common sense’ and was in place because the south-east is a more expensive place to live. McKenzie-Bayliss had submitted that the location of a ‘permanent workplace’, as set out in her contract, was not an employee’s home. She added that her ability to work from home or a temporary hub was endorsed by the CPS’s ’smarter working’ policy which makes no reference to pay being altered.
The claimant did not accept that the purpose of the London rate related to the cost of living, saying her costs in the north-east are the same. This submission was rejected by the judge.
The judge further ruled that McKenzie-Bayliss had been mistakenly overpaid for the time she had lived in the north-east. The tribunal heard that a CPS investigation last year calculated the overpayment at £16,852.
McKenzie-Bayliss, who has worked for the CPS since 1991, maintained she had not agreed to the pay cut. She had been invited to a meeting with her line manager and an HR representative and was ‘shocked and upset’ by the amount being discussed. It was made clear that she was expected to arrange to repay the sums, although no salary deductions have yet been made.
The judge said it was not appropriate to deal with the detail of the overpayment or its recoupment and left this for the parties to resolve.
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