Tag Archives: Job Security

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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HMRC Must Improve – Have Your Say

(Adapted from R&C/BB/79/14)

The staffing crisis in HMRC is pushing members to breaking point. Draconian sickness and performance policies are starting to bite. Privatisation plans in Benefits & Credits and in DMB remains a real threat to jobs and data security. Despite widespread condemnation from politicians, local communities and workers alike, HMRC are continuing with their discredited Enquiry Centre closure plans. Brewing membership anger at these plans now needs to be captured and aimed collectively and decisively at the employer.

A Jobs and Staffing specific weekly bulletin will be produced updating branches on progress. A Jobs and Staffing special edition of Oracle has been produced and will be out shortly providing important information on the campaign and how branches can play a crucial role in building support amongst members.

All our reps are working hard to deliver for members in their branches. The employers’ cynical attempt to undermine our democratic rights through the threats to remove check off and chip away at our facility time will not work as long we stick together and fight collectively in our common interests against an increasingly hostile employer. We remain committed to talking to the department positively about jobs and staffing in HMRC, however as the closure decision on the Enquiry Centres shows they are clearly not listening. The only way they will listen is if they feel the widespread anger that exists – including our ability to disrupt their plans. We can only do this in an organised and united way.

Your branch wants to know what ideas you have in tackling the issues we face and what action you, as members, are willing to take so we can help shape the national campaign. Please send us your comments and ideas to campaigns@pcssewrc.org.uk before  April 11th

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