Staff at the Criminal Records Bureau have started a work-to-rule protest over their pay.

Around 450 workers at the CRB, based in Liverpool, will limit their work to their job descriptions starting this week. The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) called the action after staff were dismayed by a 0.5 per cent pay rise.

The action is expected to create extra delays for employers who are carrying out criminal records checks on job candidates. The average time for a CRB check is currently four weeks, but the PCS have suggested the work-to-rule could push this to eight weeks as staff refuse to work overtime or to exceed minimum targets.

The union argued that the current rate of inflation means the small rise is a 4 per cent cut in real terms.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “Industrial action is a last resort but there is growing sense of betrayal over the government’s public-sector pay cap, which is compounding the financial hardship of hardworking civil and public servants at a time of economic instability.”

The union is balloting its membership on further pay actions across the public services, with the results expected later this week.