The employer contacted PCS on late afternoon on Tuesday to inform us they are withdrawing permission for PCS to use HMRC systems to cascade information with our members without prior approval from HMRC’s Employee Relations Team. We immediately responded by restating our legitimate concerns, seeking talks to clarify the issues and requesting that they reconsider. Unfortunately HMRC went ahead and communicated their decision widely without further discussion and we have been inundated with queries about what has happened and what this means.

The Department has stated that this ban is due to us asking members to await further advice from PCS on the issue of Industrial Action reporting. PCS issued a Branch Briefing (151/14) regarding an announcement that the employer had issued to staff on recording absence directly into Online HR. Members and Branches have contacted Group Office to ask what advice the union can provide on this announcement.

Subsequent exchanges with the employer have clarified their position. HMRC has stated that the content of some briefings has strayed in to areas that are prohibited under the terms of existing agreements principally the Employee Relations Agreement that states:

Industrial action and non-HMRC activities

Facilities provided for employee relations work in HMRC must not be used for the planning or conduct of any industrial action or for union activities outside HMRC unrelated to their specific role within the union.

What they are proposing is a system where the Employee Relations Team has sight of proposed Group mailings in future to ensure that the content is in line with the terms of the facilities agreement. They have assured us that they are not seeking editorial control.

No restrictions have been placed on reps ability to communicate with each other or individual members. This restriction applies to the publication of materials ‘cascaded’ to members such as Branch & Members Briefings and both Branches and the GEC will require clearance from the Employee Relations Team to issue such materials using HMRC systems until further notice. Materials should be sent to

We are in the process of setting up a meeting with the employer to discuss issues around PCS communications and recording absence for Industrial Action. As the employer has clarified that the deadline for inputting absences from the recent action is 23rd July, we would hope that these discussions will enable us to provide advice to members who have raised concerns in good time to meet this deadline. However, it is clear that there are communications that we will want to issue that will not be acceptable to HMRC.

This means that we will need to urgently establish a way of issuing material without using HMRC systems if we are going to be able to communicate openly and honestly with members where we are engaged in campaigning activity.

  1. All Branches should provide us with a private email address/multiple addresses where we can send further PCS communications to. Every Branch is asked to do this as a matter of urgency. Please email Jim Knotts ( or call 0151 298 3911 with your details.
  2. Every member is asked to give us a private email address so that we can communicate with you directly. Please visit the website and click on member login. You will be asked to input your membership number and also give us your email details.
  3. Every member is asked to check our website (click on PCS where I work and then HMRC) on a regular basis.
  4. If you are on Facebook join our Group (PCS R&C Group) or follow our twitter page (@pcsrcgroup).

Please help us to keep in touch with you today and make sure the employer knows that the only way to end this dispute is through negotiation.

Please contact r& if you have any further queries.

In solidarity

Lorna Merry                                                                         Paul Barnsley
Group President                                                               National Officer

Note: We are also collecting email address and mobile numbers locally so that we can ensure we are able to communicate with you promptly about local issues. Please email us at  with your name, department,  mobile number and, if different, the email address you would prefer us to use to let you know of any updates.


 The employer issued guidance to staff on the 18th June on recording absence directly into Online HR. The guidance was subsequently revised on the 24th June. Members and Branches have contacted Group Office to ask what advice the union can provide on this announcement.

PCS has not been consulted by the employer about this change to policy which will enable the employer to deduct pay from members taking strike action. We have written to the employer today seeking urgent discussions around this change to long standing policy.

Until these discussions have taken place and further clarification for these changes is made available to PCS members our advice is not to use the Online HR system to record that you were on strike. Further guidance will be issued to members once we have discussed this policy change with the employer.

We believe that this change has been introduced to mask severe staffing shortages in HMRC Service Centres. Put simply, there are not enough staff to record absence due to strike action following returns from line managers. We note that the proposed new policy does not reduce the burden on line managers. Managers in attendance are still required to prepare a list of those that they believe are on strike. Line managers will also be required to ‘authorise the absence’ via Online HR.

PCS members rightly believe that the responsibility for pay deductions and recording industrial action lies with the employer and not members.

Further guidance to members will be issued after our meeting with the employer. For further guidance or support please contact your local Branch or email r&

Lorna Merry                                                                         Paul Barnsley
Group President                                                                 National Officer


BB/128/14 informed members that the Overtime ban had been extended until 30 June 2014. Following on from the successful week of rolling action taken by members last week PCS are now once again extending the ban as part of our action short of strike however this time it is to run indefinitely.

HMRC have been using overtime to mask the staff shortages in the department for years so we must ensure that as many members as possible observe the overtime ban and see it as an integral part of our Jobs and Staffing Campaign. If we are to win any concessions at all from the employer and make sure that all work available is done by a proper compliment of staff then we have to resist the temptation of short term financial gain for the opportunity to secure long term permanent jobs.

The department have been spending between £3.5 to £4.5 million per month on overtime over the last 3 years and although the overtime ban as reduced this slightly it is evident that the department still relies heavily on its uses with the last 3 months from March accounting for £4.1m, £3.2m and £3.1m respectively.

This amount of money spent equates to around 1800 FTE so it is quite clear that HMRC, if they had the will, could invest in staff to do the job instead of using overtime to mask staff shortages and run down the department.

We are therefore asking all members to observe the continued overtime ban which is being implemented to further the objectives of our national dispute and the R&C Jobs and Staffing campaign.

Gordon Rowntree
Assistant Group Secretary


MB/21/14 advised members that PCS had called action over the employers’ flexible resourcing programme.

Members have told us in no certain terms that they do not support the employers’ latest attempt to mask the impact of their careless and arbitrary cuts by pulling thousands of staff away from their normal duties, such as tackling non-compliance, to answer calls in Contact Centres and “pop-up” centres around the UK.

PCS Conference voted unanimously to reject this approach. Members have also voted yes for action and to oppose cuts in HMRC and to demand enough staff to do the work properly.

We have therefore asked all members to take action on Flexible Resourcing to expose the staffing crisis in HMRC. As a first step members were asked to submit a letter refusing to volunteer for the flexible resourcing project or withdrawing their agreement to volunteer where they had previously done so.

Since MB/21/14 was issued we have been contacted by members who have reported:

  1. That they have submitted a letter and have now been contacted in writing by their Line Manager
  2. That they have not submitted a letter but have been volunteered by their Line Manager without their consent.

Our advice to members on the next steps to take is as follows:

  1. If a member has not submitted one of the template letters attached to MB/21/14 they must do so as soon as possible.
  2. Where a member has submitted a letter and has received a written response from their Line Manager the letter attached (At Annex A) to this Briefing should be sent to the Line Manager in reply by the deadline date given in the employers’ letter.
  3. We advise members at every grade – including Line Managers – to submit their appropriate letters. We want these issues escalated through the line management chain.
  4. Members are not required to move onto Flexible Resourcing until their concerns have been discussed and the necessary HMRC policy complied with. The letter attached to this briefing is directly linked to the employers own policies and they are obliged to comply with every request set out in the letter.
  5. HMRC cannot move people in a mandatory fashion if it breaches their own policies on health and safety, performance management, training or terms and conditions.
  6. It is important that members are encouraged to tailor the letter as much as possible to their own individual circumstances. Branches are asked to assist members with this task.

PCS calls upon all members to support our campaign of activity around Flexible Resourcing. This action has been called as part of our Jobs & Staffing campaign. It is important to note however that we are not at this stage asking members to boycott the programme and we are explicitly NOT asking members to take any action that could lead to disciplinary action.

We understand that members feel under pressure to demonstrate ‘positive behaviours’ and consequently to volunteer to take on this new work. However we also know that members are angry about being taken away for their own important work and asked to help the employer mask acute staffing shortages that it has made worse this week following the announcement by Lin Homer on Wednesday of yet more job cuts.

We do not believe that HMRC can compel members to move to a new location, or to undertake new work at short notice which they have not been adequately trained or equipped to do and members should resist this.

 Fundamentally however our strength comes not from our contracts of employment, but from standing together and taking action together. When we do this, we can push HMRC back and we can win concessions.

Following the successful week of rolling action across HMRC last week we now need to ensure that we maintain the pressure on the employer and that we continue to highlight the need for investment in more staff in HMRC and an end to job cuts, site closures and an end to the attacks on our terms and conditions of service.

Please support the Jobs and Staffing Campaign – do not help HMRC mask the disastrous impact of its job cuts and inadequate staffing levels

In solidarity

 Lorna Merry                                                                         Paul Barnsley
Group President                                                                 National Officer



Lin Homer intranet message – PCS reply

Members may have seen the intranet message from the Chief Executive, Lin Homer, sent on the 16th June. In the message she states that she wants to correct ‘factual inaccuracies’ in PCS communications on jobs and staffing issues.

PCS is issuing this briefing to members to set out the facts fully and we invite you to make your own mind up about the need for us to take action next week.

Claim – Lin Homer says “Despite what PCS says, we are talking to them all the time about what is happening”

Reality – HMRC has announced that it is imposing a derisory pay award of 1%. There has been no negotiation with PCS on pay. HMRC is attempting to impose changes to banked and anticipated leave arrangements. There was no negotiation with PCS in advance of this announcement. HMRC announced plans to close 14 sites across HMRC and fully withdraw lines of business in 9 other areas. There was no negotiation with PCS in advance of this decision. HMRC is attempting to forcibly move staff around the department to cover staffing shortfalls. There has been no negotiation or agreement over flexible resourcing.

Claim – “William Hague and I last met with PCS on 9th May”

Reality – This is true. Lin Homer meets PCS for 1 hour every 6 months. Members may wish to consider if this represents “talking to PCS all the time”. Lin Homer consistently refused to meet with us to discuss our concerns around jobs and staffing and private conversations with her officials in the Employee Relations team have revealed that neither Lin Homer or William Hague are remotely interested in negotiations with PCS to address the concerns of their staff about their plans to cut a further 22,000 jobs between now and 2016.

Claim – “PCS talks about the need for ExCom to press for greater investment”

Reality – This is absolutely true. In response the employer has repeatedly refused to work with PCS to make the case for additional resources, better terms and conditions for staff or to highlight the proven ‘spend and save’ benefit of employing more staff across Lines of Business. Instead ExCom unthinkingly draw up plans to slash more jobs and close more sites. Far from ‘Building our Future’ their strategy risks ‘Destroying our Department’

Claim “In terms of flexible resourcing, we think it is right that we move people to where customer demand is”

Reality – HMRC’s own planning reveals a massive shortfall in staffing resources outside of peak periods. Despite this HMRC are planning to make 2,200 staff in contact centres compulsorily redundant in November and have put forward not one idea about how they will manage the growing crisis due to lack of staff bar forcibly moving staff around HMRC to try to cover up the mess they are making

Finally members will note that Lin Homer has absolutely nothing to say about the imposed performance management system – despite this being a central issue at dispute and despite 23,000 staff participating in the employer’s own pulse survey and rejecting the completely discredited PMR system.

PCS members are urged to support the rolling programme of strike action next week. The PCS Jobs & Staffing campaign is your chance to tell HMRC management that they ‘Must Improve’. We know members are angry and frustrated about:

The discredited performance management system and the way you are managed as a result

  • Another pay award below inflation (non consolidated again for staff at pay band maxima)
  • The constant denigration of staff in the department and our hard won terms and conditions
  • The prospect of 22,000 more job cuts, mass site closure and no clue from the employer about how they are going to do this or pay for it
  • The refusal of senior leaders to make the case for investment and more staff
  • The future of HMRC and the role it can play in communities and in public service delivery

We need to now take action together to persuade the employer to think again. Members are asked to take one day of strike action on the following days:

Monday 23 June: Scotland and northern England
Tuesday 24 June: Yorkshire and Humberside, and eastern England
Wednesday 25 June: London and the south east, and south west England
Thursday 26 June: Midlands and Northern Ireland
Friday 27 June: North west England and Wales

We urge you to support your union and support the action next week.

In solidarity

Lorna Merry  – Group President
Paul Barnsley – National Officer

Tax Free Childcare

 Consultation arrangements over Tax Free Childcare in HMRC

Tax Free Childcare (TFC) was announced by the government as part of the 2013 budget. It is scheduled to launch in autumn 2015, and the broad aims of the scheme are:

–          A government contribution towards childcare which could be worth up to £2,000 per child each year.

–          All working families with children under 12 will be able to access the scheme within the first year of its opening.

–          To be eligible, both parents (or a lone parent) must be in paid work up to a maximum earnings threshold and not be in receipt of tax credits, Universal Credit or Employer Supported Childcare

–          Tax-Free Childcare will be delivered by HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) in partnership with National Savings & Investments (NS&I) which is an Executive Agency of HM Treasury. The scheme will be simple, flexible and straightforward for parents and childcare providers; parents’ money will be secure; and they will face no fees or charges.

–          Self-employed parents and those working for employers who do not offer the existing Employer-Supported Childcare scheme will be able to access the scheme

–          Parents who are currently using the Employer-Supported Childcare scheme will be able to choose to stay in that scheme or move to Tax-Free Childcare. It will be their choice. However, Employer-Supported Childcare will be closed to new entrants once TFC goes live. Employers’ workplace nurseries will not be affected.

PCS have been offered stakeholder involvement in the project and we met recently with the Programme Director to get an early view of the work being undertaken. That meeting was very useful as a starting point but it is clear the project is still very much in development and that a lot of planning work needs to be done before we can begin talks on what TFC will mean in terms of jobs and where the work will be located.

We have agreed the need for further meetings with the Programme Director in the coming months as these plans start to firm up, and we will keep branches updated with progress.

Tim Coxon
On behalf of AGS Helen Watkins



HMRC Must Improve: Jobs & Staffing Campaign

The Jobs & Staffing Campaign continues. Please read the update and attachments on the national PCS website

Members Briefing R&C/MB/09/14:



In January, PCS wrote to Lin Homer seeking centrally convened talks to reach an agreement on jobs and staffing that would address your concerns about a number of detrimental impositions and announcements that threaten thousands of jobs across HMRC. The reply from the Chief Executive made clear that she was unwilling to arrange a meeting to discuss your concerns.

Last month we wrote again to the Chief Executive, laying out more starkly your demands and highlighting a number of recent announcements, made without prior consultation or negotiation with PCS, which threaten thousands of jobs in HMRC. These include but are not limited to: the imposition of the discredited Performance Management system, the closure of all 281 enquiry centres, 3 voluntary exit schemes, the start of a consultation exercise to close 12 offices, privatisation of work in Benefits and Credits and Debt Management and Banking and a refusal to offer permanent jobs to over 3,000 members currently employed on fixed term contracts.

Since this second letter was sent we have been made aware of a decision to privatise post handling work, along with the announcement of the latest HMRC Business Plan which details further cuts and yesterday’s unilateral decision to scrap banked leave and vary leave anticipation and carry over arrangements, none of which have been subject to any consultation with PCS.

The Group Executive Committee (GEC) met yesterday to receive a report on progress towards achieving a Jobs and Staffing agreement with HMRC. Despite repeated attempts to secure meaningful negotiations, HMRC continue to refuse to meet with PCS. The GEC unanimously agreed that it is now clear that your demands cannot be achieved through negotiation alone and that there should be a ballot of all PCS members in HMRC.

The ballot asks all members to vote to take strike action and action short of strike in pursuit of our demands, which are:

  • An agreement on staffing to ensure that there are enough staff to do the work.
  • Permanent jobs for all members on fixed term contracts.
  • An end to all current privatisation exercises and a commitment not to outsource any HMRC work in future.
  • A guarantee of no compulsory redundancies and no compulsory moves beyond reasonable daily travel.
  • An end to office closures, and for HMRC to retain a visible face to face presence in our communities.
  • An agreement on workload – reducing stress, over-stretch and demands on workers.
  • An immediate scrapping of the discredited performance management system.
  • A reduction in line managers’ spans of command, to reduce pressure and to allow managers to focus more on staff support and development.
  • A fully funded HMRC tackling avoidance and evasion – but also putting public service delivery at the heart of everything it does.

The ballot will commence on Monday 28 April and will close on Friday 16 May 2014.

We are asking all members to reject HMRC’s vision of smaller, more flexible workforce concentrated in large urban centres. This will mean the closure of offices, forcing members to leave through aggressive performance management system, the offering of voluntary exit packages and an end to a public facing department through the forced migration of taxpayers onto online filing and correspondence.

We are asking all members to vote in favour of PCS’s alternative vision for HMRC which requires: adequate staffing levels to close the Tax Gap and to provide a quality service to the taxpaying public, a visible face to face presence in all local communities, fundamental changes to the management of people such as the abolition of oppressive performance management policies and the development of rewarding jobs which are manageable and achievable.

Previous campaigns in the Revenue and Customs Group have seen off privatisation in our Contact Centres, protected over 3,000 FTAs from compulsory redundancy, saved workplace nurseries from closure and secured additional funding which has saved thousands of jobs across HMRC.

We hope that Chief Executive, Lin Homer, and Chief People Officer, William Hague, will agree to talk to us and reach an agreement that will protect our jobs and allow us to carry our core work of providing a service to taxpayers and reducing the Tax Gap. However, if they don’t we need to take action to make the employer listen to us.

Branch representatives will be distributing campaign materials over the coming weeks, to explain more about our Jobs and Staffing campaign and how you can contribute to its success. If you want to get involved, speak to a local rep, or visit the R&C Group Campaign Pages

Together we are strong and together we can win. Vote Yes/Yes when your ballot paper arrives.

Paul Barnsley (National Officer)
On behalf of the Group Executive Committee
(16 April 2014)

Banked Leave

Members will have seen the announcement from Chief People Office, William Hague, today regarding the removal of Banked Leave.

PCS has not agreed these changes and we are taking urgent legal advice on the employers’ proposals.

PCS (and representatives from our sister union ARC) met with the employers representatives on 3rd April where we were informed of their plans to change banked leave arrangements.

There has been no negotiation or consultation on the announced imposed changes and we can confirm that we have not met the employer on this issue since the imposed decision to suspend Banked Leave was imposed by the employer last year.

Our advice to all members is as follows:

1.    Do not in any circumstances agree to any action taken by your line manager in line with these imposed changes.

2.    If your employer attempts to force any changes to your Banked Leave then you are strongly advised to formally write to your line manager pointing out that you believe Banked Leave arrangements are contractual and that any changes to your arrangements are not agreed by you and that you are complying under duress.

3.    PCS is taking urgent legal advice on the ability of the employer to force you to take at least 5 days of Banked Leave in each performance year. We do not believe that the employer can compel people to do this.


Members may recall that imposed changes for banking leave were suspended in May 2013 as part of HMRCs changes to Departmental terms and conditions.

The rationale that the employer gave at the time for the suspension was that HMRC had a deficit equivalent to 191,000 days on their balance sheet and it would be a cause for concern should people access the leave at times that were not convenient for the business.

PCS did not and does not agree with the assumptions made or conclusions drawn by HMRC on the banking of leave and we have pointed the employer to the fact that the amount of banked leave has reduced from 191,000 to 131,000 is evidence that staff and members are using their banked leave appropriately.

PCS believes that Banked Leave is an important term and condition of employment for members and promotes a good work life balance and offers staff flexibility in their working lives. Banked Leave is used for many reasons for example family occasions such as weddings or holidays to visit family abroad.

We have pointed out to the employer there are also good reasons why staff have to bank leave – like pressure of work, building up too much time off in lieu (TOIL) and not being able to take it, excessive travel and a growing expectation in some areas that people will travel to undertake their HMRC duties.

We believe that the employers’ decision is driven by inadequate staffing levels in HMRC. Put bluntly Banked Leave is being withdrawn because job cuts across Lines of Business have gone too far and there are simply not enough staff left to do the job. The withdrawal of Banked Leave is another piece of crisis management and a crude attempt to mask severe staffing shortages.   

We have pointed out that if HMRC considered their location strategy and their attitude to work/life balance then people may not have to bank their leave. Further, we have emphasised that the removal of a contractual condition of employment, either overtly set out or one which has implicitly become a contractual term over time, then we would need to take legal advice. 

The employer has stated in response is that members of staff are banking leave in order to take it before retirement so they can leave at an earlier date. Members may draw their own conclusions as to why people want to leave HMRC at the earliest possible date, but the employer has failed to produce any evidence to show this is the case.

Anticipating leave

PCS is particularly concerned about the erosion of terms and conditions that allow for anticipating leave.

Currently staff can anticipate up to ten days from the next year’s leave allocation.

From 1st May, this will be reduced to five days and staff will only be able to anticipate leave in the last calendar month of your leave year and only with Line Manager approval now.

The number of days leave that you’ll be able to carry over from one leave year to another will remain at a maximum of ten days but only with the agreement of your manager.

We are aware that these imposed changes have already created problems for some PCS Representatives and their planned attendance at our conference next month. We are raising this with the employer as a matter of urgency.

Next Steps

William Hague’s announcement recognises that these imposed changes are unlikely to be popular.

PCS has not been provided with any evidence or reasonable rationale for these changes which have not been subject to negotiation or consultation with us. We will now take the following steps:

 1.    We will register a formal disagreement over these changes and depending on their employers response move into formal dispute over these imposed changes.

2.    We are taking urgent legal advice over the imposed removal of what we believe is a contractual right to banked leave. 

3.    We have asked for a copy of the equality impact assessment that the employer is required to carry out before attempting to impose these changes

4.    We continue to ask the employer to provide evidence of any burden on the department that cannot reasonably be borne that arise from Banked Leave arrangements.

5.    We will continue to use the PCS Jobs & Staffing Campaign to produce evidence to prove that these imposed changes are being driven by inadequate staffing levels.

Members are advised to take the following steps:

1.    Do not in any circumstances agree to any action taken by your line manager in line with these imposed changes.

2.    If your employer attempts to force any changes on you then you are advised to formally write to your line manager pointing out that you believe Banked Leave arrangements are contractual and that any changes to your arrangements are not agreed by you and that you are complying under duress.

3.    PCS is taking urgent legal advice on the ability of the employer to force you to take at least 5 days of Banked Leave in each performance year. We do not believe that the employer can compel people to do this.

4.    Please contact your Branch for advice and support on any issue related to Banked Leave or contact r&

 Further information will be issued to members shortly.

Paul Barnsley – National Officer
Margi Rathbone – Deputy Group Secretary



Post Handling

Following this week’s announcement on the significant changes to the way in which post is handled in HMRC PCS has raised a number of queries & concerns with the employer about this situation. We are awaiting a response from the employer’s representatives & once this is received an all members briefing will be issued.

We thank branches for the reports provided on the membership reaction in response to this announcement & the support that branch officials have provided to members.

The GEC meets on Tuesday 15 April & they will receive a report on the developing situation.


Clive Bryant – Assistant Group Secretary
Paul Barnsley – National Officer

Discipline Guidance

This briefing updates you on the background to this policy being introduced and explains the reasons why the GEC has registered formal disagreement

Initially this guidance was Discipline and Grievance Civil Service Employee Policy (CSEP), and this was first shared with the unions in July 2013. PCS feedback to the employer centred on our desire for independence and transparency in the process, in line with Conference policy.

At a meeting with the employer in December 2013 we discussed all the points raised and later also raised the fact that the appeals safeguard had been removed.

The employer expressed the view that the new guidance had few areas of difference with the current guidance and that, where it did differ, this only strengthened the guidance.

We asked that publication be delayed until the updated policy could be taken to the GEC meeting on 18 February for consideration.

The employer advised us on 6 February 2014 that they had decided that the Discipline and Grievance CSEP would be separate policies.

We received the Discipline CSEP on 7 February 2014. This was referred to the GEC meeting on 18February 2013 at which the GEC stated that more time be given to consider the policy as it had only been received. The policy was then referred to the Policy Sub-committee for consideration and concerns were then sent to the employer.

On Thursday 20 March the employer advised that some of the points raised were already in the current guidance and would not be revisited. They further informed PCS that they were adopting the Discipline CSEP with minimal change. The guidance was subsequently published on the Intranet on Monday 24 March.

This Briefing is to let you know that we have written to the employer to register our formal disagreement to the policy. The primary reasons for this are:

  • The lack of independence in the process
  • The removal of the appeals safeguard
  • The rigidity of the timetable for rearranging meetings, particularly in the event of the jobholder’s companion being unavailable. We believe that the restrictions upon facility time will only make this situation worse.
  • That the Appeal Manager on non-dismissal cases can be of the same grade as the original Decision Maker.

We have demanded further negotiations with the employer and will keep you updated.

An Emergency Motion will be put to the GEC for consideration to go to the Group Delegate Conference in May.

Karen Taylor – Assistant Group Secretary
Jake Wilde –  Vice President