Tag Archives: Annual Leave

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:

JOBS AND STAFFING CAMPAIGN BALLOT

STARTS MONDAY 28 APRIL

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)

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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.

Background

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&ccampaigns@pcs.org.uk

 Further information will be issued to members shortly.

Paul Barnsley – National Officer
Margi Rathbone – Deputy Group Secretary

R&C/BB/97/14

                                                                          

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Annual Leave in PT Operations

Members across PT Operations will know that we have been in negotiations with PT Operations management for some months over annual leave availability, with the aspiration of meeting the demands laid out in Emergency Motion 7 to Group Delegate Conference 2013.

Negotiations have progressed well; which PCS believes is a strong indicator of improving industrial relations in PT Operations following a difficult year.

A number of important concessions have been achieved, in line with both the instructions in EM7 and the wider aspirations of our PT Ops membership. Specifically, these include:

  • A commitment that all members in PT Operations will be able to take their full contractual leave entitlement during their leave year. If leave needs to be approved over and above allocations to achieve this and reasonable steps have been taken to plan leave, this will be done.
  • A commitment that all members in PT Operations will be able to take a minimum 2 week block of leave, or 10 isolated days of leave or any variation in between during the summer months (June, July and August). If leave needs to be approved over and above allocations to achieve this, this will be done.
  • A commitment that all members will be able to take a 5 day block of leave on 3 other occasions during the year. If leave needs to be approved over and above allocations to achieve this, this will be done.
  • An end to short term leave planning arrangements that make it impossible for our members to plan how they wish to use their annual leave entitlement. Leave allocations have been published this week for the whole of the 2014/15 financial year and we have secured a commitment that there will be a minimum 6 months’ notice period of leave allocations for the 2015/16 financial year.
  • Significant improvements to leave availability over the Christmas and New Year period. In Contact Centres and telephony enabled sites, this means an allocation of 60% over much of the festive period. In non-telephony enabled sites there will be no allocations made for the entire festive fortnight period and sites will only be required to maintain a minimal skeleton staff.
  • Improvements to leave availability at peak leave periods, such as Easter (2 weeks), late Spring, August and Bank Holidays, where allocations of 25% will be made available.
  • Regional and local variations introduced to take account of different Bank Holidays in different countries and the variable timing of school holidays in different Local Education Authorities.
  • A minimum 20% leave allocation in most months in most work areas throughout the year – in telephony enabled sites, 20% leave allocations will be available for 38 weeks of the year and, in non telephony enabled sites, this increases to 42 weeks of the year, with buffers in place in a further 7 weeks to ensure that members are not denied leave at key times of the year.
  • Members working on small lines of business in Contact Centres will now receive the same leave allocations as members working on larger lines of business, to reduce differential treatment for members working in more specialist areas of PT Operations.
    • Leave will be recycled between different locations to ensure that unused leave in one location is made available elsewhere where there is demand for it.

Management have also confirmed to us that authority for approving leave ultimately rests with the line manager and line managers will now be empowered to approve leave requests over and above allocations where a member of their team needs leave for a particular reason at a particular time. While we do not wish to be too prescriptive about how this is managed at a local level, this does mean, for example, that members should now be able to have confidence that they will be able to get leave for special occasions such as weddings or birthdays and that, where requests for a particular date exceed the allocation by a narrow margin, all requests should be granted. We shall be relying on LTUS reps to engage with managers in their sites, working with them to embed this new process and to feed back through the business TUS structures on how this is operating in practice.

There is still significant work to be done, at both national and local level, to develop the processes that will underpin these fundamental commitments and we shall continue working closely with management to support jobholders and managers in applying these new leave arrangements. However, we believe that this represents a significantly better leave arrangement than has been available in PT Operations in the recent past.

We are working with the PT industrial relations team to finalise management’s offer to us in response to our request for meaningful negotiations on a range of issues of concern to members working in PT Operations and we shall, of course, consult members fully on this offer once it is received.

As usual, we welcome feedback on this briefing and on leave arrangements generally and would ask that this is passed through your local TUS reps in the usual way.

Vicki Searle – Assistant Group Secretary
John Davidson – Assistant Group Secretary

R&C/BB/56/14

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