The Heating and Ventilating Contractors' Association (HVCA) and trade union Unite have reached an agreement on the terms of a wage freeze, effective 5 October 2009.

Hourly rates and allowances have been held at their previous 6 October 2008 rate, but will increase by 2% in October 2010, when employers will also become liable under the agreement to pay a pension contribution of 1% of basic earnings above the primary earnings threshold.

This provision anticipates by two years the compulsory enrolment of employees into a pension scheme that meets the criteria laid down in the Pensions Act 2008. This comes into force in October 2012.

Details of the pension arrangements, and the method of its communication to employers and employees, will be developed over the coming months by a working party established jointly by HVCA and Unite.

Peter Rimmer, head of the HVCA’s employment affairs department, said: This agreement acknowledges the considerably more difficult circumstances under which building services engineering is currently operating compared with 12 or 18 months ago. Given that it is unlikely that prospects for the sector will improve significantly during 2010, it is crucial that employers run as a tight a ship as possible.”