Stable staff get average 14.5 per cent pay rise after 'inflation-busting' deal

Stable staff go about their dutiesLingfield 17.5.16 Pic: Edward Whitaker
Pay rises are weighted towards those at the lower end of the experience scaleCredit: Edward Whitaker

The National Association of Racing Staff (Nars) and National Trainers Federation (NTF) have agreed an average 14.5 per cent increase in the minimum pay for stable staff in Britain.

The "inflation-busting" new rates, which were negotiated through the National Joint Council, are weighted towards those at the lower end of the experience scale with level one school leavers entering the sport receiving a 30 per cent increase (to £250.12 from £192.40 per week) and level two 'improvers' aged 16-17 gaining the biggest rise of 40 per cent (to £308 per week from £220).

The need to address recruitment at the entry level is being felt across many industries amid a cost of living crisis reflected by a UK inflation rate of 9.9 per cent. Stables have struggled to recruit staff, reflected in 136 horse care vacancies on the Careers in Racing website.

Minimum rates for level six employees in a supervisory role have risen by 25 per cent, to £475 from £380 per week, equivalent to a rise from £9.50 an hour to £11.88 an hour, based on a 40-hour week.

Level five skilled/specialist workers receive a 15 per cent increase (to £418 from £380) and level four senior staff will benefit from a ten per cent increase (to £437 from £380).

The changes raise the minimum salaries in these roles above the national living wage of £9.50 an hour, although the increases do not apply where an employer is providing subsidised or free housing. In such instances previous minimum rates will still be adhered to. The new rates will come into place on November 14.

Nars chief executive George McGrath said: "These pay increases recognise the respect and value the NTF and its members have for the skilled racing staff that work with and for them, and have only been possible to achieve by working closely with Paul Johnson, the chief executive of the NTF."

George McGrath: 'We've always had a good working relationship with the NTF'
George McGrath: 'We've always had a good working relationship with the NTF'Credit: Nars

He added: "We've always had a good working relationship with the NTF and this is something we're very keen to work on together. This is just the first step in a collaborative way forward on industry strategy. Although we do things like this for our particular members, there is a long-term benefit to the industry as a whole.

"It doesn't matter how good our industry strategy is, if we don't have people we can't operate. This really addresses things around recruitment and then it is down to us and the NTF to work together on retention. We will be working together over the coming months and years to do what's right for the industry and the people within it.

"When we say people in the industry it isn't just staff, trainers are people too. It shouldn't be us and them, it should be all of us – it's inclusivity at its best. Working together shows you what you can achieve. Some of my colleagues in other trade union movements are going out on strike and causing all sorts of disruption, there can be a better way, you can actually achieve things by working together."

Johnson, speaking on behalf of the NTF, added: "With staff shortages being one of the most significant challenges that trainers face at present, we have been keen to work closely with Nars to explore ways to improve recruitment, training and the retention of racing’s workforce.

"Although pay rates are just one part of this, we have endeavoured to reach an outcome that targets the increases to minimum rates at the youngest and the most skilled staff. At the same time, we have had to be conscious of the increasing costs that trainers face elsewhere and recognise there are limits to what we can do via pay rates alone.

"Consequently, we have also spent time in recent months discussing staffing with the BHA, racing schools and Nars with a view to identifying other initiatives that can help us in dealing with the staffing issue."

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