Headlines: February 23rd, 2004

The drive for better financial management in the public sector is resulting in the creation of new senior finance posts and fuelling salary increases. The latest edition of Hays’ Guide to Salaries in Accountancy, reporting on trends in the public and private sectors for second half of 2003, reveals that Directors of Finance in Higher Education secured the greatest salary increases with 4.8 per cent. Finance Heads of service areas in central government and government agencies secured 3.4 per cent increases. As a result, the gap between private and public sector salary and benefit packages for accountants has never been closer.The report notes that public sector employers are increasingly looking to the private sector to find the right candidates. At the same time many commercial candidates are keen to move into the public and not-for-profit sector because of the benefits associated with work-life balance, including perks such as 30-days holiday, flexi-time, on-site creches and home-working. Those with caring responsibilities outside work are particularly open to considering these benefits equally alongside salary and other rewards.

Andy Robling, director of Hays Accountancy Public Sector, says: “In central and local government especially, we see flexible working hours where employees are allowed to leave early as long as the needs of the department are covered and they work a core set of weekly hours. This flexible working practice needs to be promoted to candidates – firstly in recruitment advertisements and secondly in interviews.”