David O’Connor, president of the Association of Scottish Superintendents (Asps) says the practice should be stopped, with hundreds jobs expected to go when the new force is introduced in April next year.
More than 180 police officers have been promoted since January, meaning they will be entitled to a more generous “golden goodbye.”
Mr O’Connor will condemn the practice at the Asps conference this week, where Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill will be in attendance.
But the Association of Chief Police Officers Scotland (Acpos) said it was important forces maintained “resilience across all areas.”
Ministers have banned the promotion of chief officers, chief constables and deputy chief constables.
But the power to promote lower ranks is not a matter they can intervene on.
O’Connor wants a moratorium on permanent, known as “substantive,” promotions.
Mr O’Connor said: “It cannot be in the public interest to continue these substantive promotions that will have an immediate and ongoing cost impact for the future.
“While we understand that legally, promotion remains a matter for chief constables, our opinions are not based on self-interest but the
challenging economic situation and recognition of the inequitable impact this is having on police staff colleagues.
“They are particularly likely to bear the brunt of reductions in posts as a result of the new single police service and the need for
“It cannot be morally right that substantive promotions continue.”
Instead O’Connor is calling for the permanent promotions to be made temporary, which will make them less costly.
The terms of their pay would be based on the lower pay grade if the promotions were temporary.
Currently, officers can beasked to leave after more than 30 years service but cannot be made redundant.
Mr O’Connor had earlier argued in a letter to chief constables: “We would suggest the current situation is simply untenable and the
service, and Acpos, has reached a point where a moratorium should be placed upon substantive promotions.
“This decision must be predicated on the realities of future convergence.”
Since January this year, Strathclyde Police approved 112 promotions.
Last month nine people were promoted to chief superintendent, a £74,000-a-year job which is one of the most senior ranks.
The force said the figures were in keeping with the national average.
At Lothian and Borders Police, 43 officers received promotions, including 18 inspectors who moved on to a £54,000 chief inspector job.
Nothern Constabulary promoted nine staff and Tayside promoted six.
Cliff Anderson, general secretary of Acpos, said:”It is important forces maintain resilience across all areas of policing, and when
promotion opportunities arise they are considered carefully to ensure the right decisions are made in the interests of our communities.”
The Scottish Government said it expected police to “carefully consider
the future financial implications they make in the run-up to reform”,
given funding cuts from Westminster.