Tag Archives: Contact Centres

FLEXIBLE RESOURCING – FURTHER ADVICE TO MEMBERS

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

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Contact Centre Idle Codes

Contact Centre management are today announcing a new set of idle codes to be used with effect from 31st March 2014. These new codes represent a marked improvement on the myriad codes previously used – with management reducing the number of codes from 64 to 18. We hope that this will make it much simpler and more straightforward for both our advisor and manager members. For staff this should make it much easier to identify the correct code to use, and for managers this should make the process of managing and maximising productivity much more straightforward.

Crucially for our members working in Contact Centres, there will be a new “Time off Phones” Code, which will cover all HR activities. Management have agreed that this code should be used to record time spent managing leave and flexi, in line with Resolution 51, carried at Group Delegate Conference. Management have agreed that time to request time off, and to update this time off on the appropriate recording systems, such as flexi sheets, the PAT tool and ERP should be taken in the Time off Phones code (code 24). In line with the conference resolution, this is entirely separate to the new Investment Time code.

We have agreed with management that members should work with their managers to agree the most appropriate time to make these updates and that time in this code fulfilling these functions should not be excessive. If individual members are struggling to keep these records up to date and accurately maintained then they should speak to their manager about their concerns and agree a joint way to address these problems. This will ensure that members get the help and support that they need and managers can address problems in the most efficient way possible.

If there are any questions about the content of this briefing then please contact us at our HMRC email addresses.

Vicki SearleAssistant Group Secretary 
John DavidsonAssistant Group Secretary

R&C/BB/81/14

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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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