Tag Archives: FTAs

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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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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FTA Negotiations Update

Background

The statutory consultation period between HMRC and PCS, which commenced on 15th November 2013 concluded on 15th February 2014. This briefing updates FTA members on the current position and provides advice on the next steps for members who wish to either remain in HMRC beyond March 2014 or to leave HMRC at the end of their current contract.

At the start of the consultation period 3,900 FTA members were at risk of compulsory redundancy. That number currently stands at 790, the majority of whom are willing to leave HMRC when their contracts end. During the consultation period we have worked closely with HMRC to secure 335 permanent jobs in DMB, 25 permanent jobs in B&C and 2,400 contract extensions of between 6 months and 2 years in duration across multiple lines of business and locations.

We understand that in total, 2,700 applications were received for 2,400 posts. This means that the overwhelming majority of members who applied for contract extensions will secure them. In many locations sifts will not be necessary but HMRC has committed to notifying all members of the outcome of their applications by 28th February 2014 at the latest.

Where members have not applied for a permanent job or contract extension, either because there were no extensions offered in their location or because they could not commit to the working hours on offer, then HMRC has committed to working with PCS to identify reasonable alternatives to redundancy wherever possible. Our shared aim remains to ensure that any FTA member who wishes to remain in HMRC will be able to do so beyond March of this year.

Next Steps for Members

If members have applied for either permanent posts or contract extensions then they will be informed whether their application has been successful or not by 28th February at the latest. No further action will be taken by HMRC until all of these applications have been sifted and notifications made.

If members have not yet applied for either a permanent post or a contract extension then HMRC plan to initiate the departmental dismissal procedures. Every FTA member in this position will receive a formal letter from HMRC on 21st February, notifying them of this and inviting them to attend a meeting with a decision maker. We would strongly encourage all members to attend this meeting, with representation from your local PCS representatives and to explain to the decision maker what your preferences are for either remaining in HMRC or leaving at the end of your contract.

HMRC has now confirmed that all FTA members leaving HMRC in March for reason of redundancy, and who have the necessary 2 years qualifying service, will receive the appropriate compensation award under the Civil Service Compensation Scheme. Further information about this scheme and any likely award made under it can be obtained from your line manager or the HR Service Centre.

If members wish to remain in HMRC then we would urge them to make this clear during their 1-2-1 discussion, highlighting any reasons why you have been unable to apply for one of the contract extensions offered so far, for example because no extensions were offered in your location or because your working pattern could not be accommodated. HMRC remain committed to working with PCS to avoid compulsory redundancy if at all possible and the outcome of these 1-2-1 discussions will inform our negotiations over the coming fortnight, where we hope to secure reasonable alternatives to redundancy for all members who want them.

Summary of PCS Advice 

  • Attend the 1-2-1 discussion which you will shortly be invited to
  • Take PCS representation with you to this meeting
  • Use this meeting to lay out your preference for either a) leaving HMRC with redundancy pay where appropriate or b) remaining in HMRC beyond March 2014
  • If you wish to remain in HMRC, use the 1-2-1 discussion to highlight any offices within reasonable daily travel time of your home which you could travel to, the hours you can work each week – both the number and timing, and any other factors which HMRC would need to be aware of when looking for redeployment opportunities for you

 Further information and guidance to members will be issued after the 1-2-1 process is complete.

Vicki Searle – Assistant Group Secretary
Paul Barnsley – National Officer

R&C/BB/50/14

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HMRC Overtime Ban

overtimebanOvertime continues to be offered

PCS has been making the case and will continue to make the case for investment in the department however it’s clear that HMRC Management is adopting an approach of managing decline.

In BB/336/13 we said that there was increasing evidence that overtime was being used to mask staff shortages. This has been confirmed as we saw increased overtime being offered to cover contact centre work in the run up to the SA filing deadline at a time when FTAs were being told their contracts would not be renewed.

In DMB they are offering voluntary exit packages to staff at all grades in a number of locations, whilst at the same time asking them to work overtime before they go.

As the announcements to close all Enquiry Centres and further VE/VR schemes are offered we can see the increasing decimation of HMRC with the loss of further jobs and a declining service to the taxpayer.

This is a situation which will get worse with less and less staff and not enough hours in the day to get the job done. The department should be hiring staff rather than firing them and spending millions on overtime to clear backlogs and get the work done.

It makes no economic sense to be cutting jobs in HMRC especially when there is £25.8 billion of tax going uncollected. The millions spent on overtime would be better spent on permanent staff to provide a better service and to chase the £25.8 billion of uncollected tax.

It is therefore more crucial than ever that members respect the overtime ban which will help PCS argue that resources should be directed into quality permanent jobs.

The overtime ban is a vital part of our jobs and staffing campaign and Branches have responded brilliantly to the ban since its reintroduction on 12 December 2013 and we are aware that membership support for the overtime ban has remained strong. However it is crucial that this support continues.

Branches are asked to email R&CCampaigns@pcs.org.uk and let us know where overtime is being worked, what it is being used for, what the level of take up is and any activities the branch has in place such as picket lines.

Members suffering extreme financial hardship are reminded that we have a Hardship Fund. Applications to the fund can be made via your Branch.

Yours sincerely,


GORDON ROWNTREE
ASSISTANT GROUP SECRETARY

*Not to be circulated via HMRC systems
R&C/BB/45/14

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FTA Negotiations Update

PCS continues to work with HMRC to secure jobs for all our FTA members who wish to remain working in HMRC after their contracts are due to end in March. This Branch Briefing provides further information for PCS Representatives and members.

Following the mass offering of approximately 2,300 contract extensions a month ago, we have taken forward further work with HMRC to ensure that all of these posts are filled and that individual aspirations of members are met wherever possible. 

Following the initial exercise in January a number of posts remained un-filled. We reflected to HMRC the feedback that we had received from branches and members on these extension offers, which resulted in posts being re-advertised with improved communications and greater clarity around some specific issues. The deadline for applications has now been extended until 9th February.

Avoiding Compulsory Redundancy

To support our ongoing negotiations we have agreed with HMRC that managers should have discussions will all FTA members at risk of redundancy to discuss what they want and how this can best be achieved for them.

To facilitate this HMRC has produced an options/feedback form to gather information about whether FTAs have applied for extension of jobs, and if they haven’t, why they haven’t. We are fully supportive of this approach and urgently need this information to inform the next stage of the consultation exercise which will be focussed on detailed redundancy avoidance measures.

We would therefore encourage all members to complete these forms and return them – particularly where they are unable to apply for one of the jobs/extensions on offer. Members will not be bound in any way by any information they record on these templates but it will help us to work with HMRC to secure the outcome that each member would like – whether this be to leave HMRC at the end of their contract with redundancy pay if eligible or to be redeployed in HMRC or another government department.

We are particularly keen to receive this feedback from locations where no extensions were previously offered. As you will know HMRC had now offered extensions in new locations, particularly where compulsory redundancy remained a very real risk. This has resulted in extensions being offered in 2 new locations – Portsmouth and Edinburgh, which means that FTAs in these locations should now have an alternative to redundancy if they want one. We now need to ensure that staff in similar locations also have their individual aspirations met where possible and the feedback exercise is crucial to achieving this.

Where members are still unable to apply for one of the current extensions, perhaps because extensions are not being offered within Reasonable Daily Travel of their home, or because their working patterns cannot be accommodated then HMRC has committed to working with PCS to explore all possible alternatives to compulsory redundancy. However, if members chose not to apply because they don’t want to take any of the jobs on offer then it is likely that HMRC will deem that these members will have acquiesced to redundancy.

PCS urges every member who wants to remain in HMRC and are able to undertake one of the jobs on offer to apply. We are committed to filling every job.

If members are unable to apply for one of these jobs then they should speak to their line manager and complete the options form and return it. We would be grateful if members would also feedback through their branch reps with the reasons that they are unable to apply. If members wish to leave HMRC in March then they should also complete the options form and make this clear to their line manager and local PCS rep.

We continue with progressive talks with HMRC around compensation for eligible staff who are unable to apply and further information on this will shortly be published and we will discuss this further with your Branch representatives this week.

Working Patterns

We have secured agreement that alternative working patterns will be considered and accommodated wherever possible. Personal Tax will actively considering applications from part time FTA workers who have requested fewer hours over fewer days. This should remove the barrier many part time members faced when the extensions were last offered.

We have also raised the position of FTA members currently working on evening teams in PT Ops who need to be able to work until 10pm because of other commitments, such as childcare, caring responsibilities and study commitments. HMRC has agreed to consider any applications from members in these circumstances once we jointly understand how many posts have been filled and whether FTA members remain at risk of compulsory redundancy because they were unable to commit to the working hours offered. Members in these circumstances are therefore encouraged to apply.

PCS and HMRC remain committed to working constructively to avoid compulsory redundancy of FTA members. We would urge members to take the steps outlined above and to continue to feedback any questions or concerns to us, at r&ccampaigns@pcs.org.uk.

Vicki Searle – Assistant Secretary
Paul Barnsley – National Officer

R&C/BB/37/14

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