Tag Archives: PMRs

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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WEEK OF ROLLING STRIKES ACROSS HMRC NEXT WEEK – ALL OUT!!

SEND A MESSAGE TO HOMER – HMRC MUST IMPROVE

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
R&C/MB/23/14  

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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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Performance Management System End of Year Advice: Part 3

Guidance on Appeals

Background
The negotiating team dealing with Performance Management has been in discussion with the employer’s representatives over end of year appeals. Management published new guidance on 28 March. Whilst this guidance incorporated some changes proposed by PCS, there also remained some issues of concern which were the subject of further comment from ourselves. Management responded further to us on 1 April. Whilst there was some further movement on their part, it is the unanimous view of the negotiating team that this is insufficient to allow us to reach agreement.  HMRC have been informed of the PCS position and our intention to brief members on this.

PCS position
It is clear that the new appeals procedures are founded on the belief that a significant number of appeals are likely to be submitted by members. This, in itself, is a symptom of the shortcomings of the PMS system which has been foisted upon civil service departments by the government. Conversely, a system which enjoys the trust of staff – because it is fair and transparent – would not generate vast numbers of appeals.

Our aim has been to secure arrangements which:

  • ensure the appeals process is seen to be independent both of the appellant’s line manager and Countersigning Officer
  • provide an opportunity for individuals to put their case to the Appeals Manager in person
  • ensure that the Appeals Manager is at least one grade senior to the appellant’s line manager
  • provide for a further right of appeal if the appellant has concerns about the way in which their appeal has been handled

Talks with the Official Side
Discussions on these issues took place this week and resulted in some movement on the employer’s part. HMRC has written to PCS to confirm that they intend to introduce an appeals process along the following lines:

  • Appeals can be submitted within 15 days of the jobholder receiving their “final rating and report”. Appeals will be decided on the basis of a written submission using the “Performance Management Appeal Form”. A 750 word limit will apply to the submission – but additional supporting evidence can also be included.
  • Appeals can be submitted either against the final performance rating and/or comments made as part of the performance management review. Allegations of bullying, harassment, victimisation or discrimination can still be raised through the grievance procedures.
  • The appeal will be submitted to the Countersigning Manager.
  • The Countersigning Manager will not deal with the appeal but will appoint an Appeal Manager. The Appeal Manager will be someone who is a higher grade than the person appealing and can be from either within or outside the line of business.
  • The Countersigning Manager will forward the appeal to the Appeal Manager and let the jobholder know who is dealing with their appeal.
  • There will be no formal appeal hearing as part of the appeals process. The Appeal Manager can decide to talk to the appellant or the manager to clarify any points that are raised in the appeal. The appellant can invite a union representative or a colleague to a discussion with the Appeal Manager.
  • The Appeal Manager will consider whether the final performance rating and/or comments made are reasonable and fair – and, if not, will uphold the appeal.
  • The appeals process is final. The appeal manager will advise individuals of their decision within 15 working days of the appeal being submitted.
  • There will be a full review of the appeals process – as part of a wider review of the PMS system – after the year-end results are available.

PCS Advice
PCS fully understand that many members will be seriously considering submitting an appeal either if they receive a “Must Improve” marking or they do not receive an “Exceeded” rating. In terms of “Must Improve” markings, a “climate of fear” has been created – because members are concerned that this could lead to adverse management action or to detrimental consequences on pay – notwithstanding management assurances to the contrary. Equally, many members are disappointed that there was a significant shortfall in the number of staff awarded an “Exceeded” mark – just 13% against the guided distribution ratio of 20%.

Anyone who believes that a “Must Improve” marking was not warranted or that they should have been awarded an “Exceeded” marking has a right to appeal and should give careful consideration to exercising this right.

We have a further meeting with the employer’s representatives scheduled for Tuesday 8th April at which we will press again our demands for a fair appeals process. Following that meeting we will issue more detailed advice to members regarding the submission of appeals.

Clive Bryant  Group Assistant Secretary
Tom TaylorIndustrial Officer

R&C/BB/89/14

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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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RIS Industrial Relations Update

We are grateful to those Branches that responded to the call for agenda items for our discussions with OS in RIS this week, and below is a brief report on how those discussions proceeded.

Partial retirement and (positive) mobility of staff

As reported in BB 52/14, positive discussions had taken place in the PCD area on these issues, and we have intimated our hopes that the position outlined in that briefing could be deemed to apply to the whole of RIS.  The SLT will consider this and feed back, but in the mean time, any problems that cannot be resolved in local discussion should be referred to Marianne Owens for Members outwith PCD.  Initial feedback indicates that the position discussed in PCD is working positively, and we welcome this greatly.

Recruitment

Flowing directly from the above, RIS agreed to share with TUS their plans for recruitment and broader location strategy moving forward, and the upcoming SLT meeting would discuss resourcing in depth.

Professionalism for Analysts

Good work on the Official Side has been going on of late around the creation of a Professional Framework for Analysts, on which a separate Branch Briefing will be issued shortly.  Without prejudice to some concerns regarding the potential treatment of staff who make to meet the required standard following their appointment, TUS can see the benefit of work to develop such a professional framework, and took the opportunity to broadly welcome this work.

Additionally, TUS expressed a desire for a commitment that this endeavour will be properly resourced, and that where grading lines may have blurred to the point that work is identified through the framework as being done at a higher grade, vacancies will be created and filled appropriately in order to ensure Analysts are properly rewarded for their efforts.

Mid-Size & Large Business review

The impact of this review on RIS was discussed, with assurances sought that RIS were adequately resourced to provide cases to the new mid-size teams in April.  TUS intimated a desire to be kept in the loop on developments and this was happily agreed.

PMR

Previous Branch Briefings have provided updates on PMR across the Department, and TUS expressed some concern that in some areas of RIS, the expectation of the volume of evidence required, and the frequency of review meetings, was such that they were having a deleterious effect on both productivity and morale.

The OS agreed to look into some of the anecdotes provided by TUS, and with the PMR system being reviewed across Business Streams, TUS requested sight of any drafts and input into the final version of the RIS response.

Grading / Job Descriptions

Similarly to concerns raised regarding the possible blurring of Grading lines for analysts above, TUS intimated that a substantial portion of the RIS TUS inbox is comprised of queries around the appropriate grading of work, and asked for up to date generic job descriptions.

An additional piece of ongoing work regarding Professionalism for staff outwith Analyst roles was identified as having as part of its remit the design of role profiles, and TUS welcomed the offer of input into this.

Workstate

 It was agreed that High level data on RIS Workstate would be shared with TUS prior to regular meetings, and TUS concerns regarding the occasional tailing off of the workflow in RIS were acknowledged as a matter suitable for further discussion.

Temporary Promotions

The ongoing TUS concerns regarding a disproportionate number of Temporary Promotions in RIS were raised, and it was agreed that an updated snapshot of these would be provided prior to our next meeting with a view to allowing a more detailed discussion.

Hamish Drummond
Assistant Group Secretary

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Performance Management System End Of Year Advice (Part 1)

GEC advise that members should diligently engage on the self assessment process

The PCS Revenue & Customs group Executive Committee met last week and agreed that members should be issued with some initial advice on the HMRC Performance Management System (PMS) end of year process.  Since that meeting the Chief People Officer (CPO) has issued his own advice on which a number of branches have requested clarification, in particular the timescales referred to in his message.

Self Assessment

The end of year self assessment is a critical part of the PMS process as the evidence that is gathered at this point will frame the way in which the rest of the process impacts on individuals.  It is important that members should engage in the evidence collection and self assessment process for three reasons:

1.  The compilation of comprehensive evidence to substantiate that members are meeting their objectives will help managers in coming to the correct conclusion that the vast majority of members are meeting or exceeding their objectives.

2.  Providing evidence through the self assessment process will minimise any grounds that validation groups may have to either change markings or to call into question the process that managers and jobholders have engaged in.

3.  The diligent compilation of evidence will ensure that members will be able to demonstrate adherence to the process should it become necessary to invoke the appeal procedures or the grievance procedures; failure to do so could rule out appeals and/or grievances on technical grounds. 

Timescales 

We are aware that some indicative timescales for the completion of self assessment and evidence gathering have been provided in the third leader led masterclass; these have also been referred to in the CPO message issued last week. There are though no such timescales in the published PMS guidance.

PCS has raised the issue of timescales with the employer’s representatives and they have confirmed that the timelines indicated in the CPO message are to ensure that End of Year markings are recorded on the ERP system by the 2nd May deadline.  We have had reports that many areas across HMRC are taking a pragmatic approach to the timescales on self assessment and evidence gathering, noting that many jobs across the department are orientated towards the end of the tax year with a lot of evidence on completion of objectives only being available into March.

PCS advice is that members should resist pressure to sign off too soon on the self assessment and evidence gathering process.  Members are advised that the timescales for completion on this part of the end of year process should be subject to discussion between the line manager and jobholder.  If members receive any pressure to adhere to an arbitrary timescale they should report this to their branch secretary.

End of Year Meetings

We have received a limited number of reports that managers in some areas were indicating that the end of year meeting between the manager and jobholder will be starting in February or early March.  Clearly this is a misunderstanding of the process: therefore PCS advises that members should not be pressurised into attending an end of year meeting until they have completed the self assessment and evidence gathering process to their satisfaction.  The line manager will also need some time to gather their own evidence and review the self assessment provided by the jobholder. It would be wrong to rush this part of the process noting the critical impact that it may have on the PMS stages which follow on from this.

Action for Members and Branches  

Pending further advice members are asked to:

1.  Continue to collect and collate evidence for the self assessment process

2. Discuss the evidence gathering and self assessment process with your manager with a view to reaching agreement that this will not be brought to a premature conclusion

3.  End of Year Meetings should not take place at this point noting that the self assessment and evidence gathering process is continuing.  If it is likely that further evidence will not become available until later in March the End of year meeting should not take place until this evidence has been obtained.

Branches are asked to collate any evidence of pressure being applied to members to bring the evidence gathering and self assessment process to an early conclusion.  Information obtained should be sent to PCS HQ using the R&CCampaigns@pcs.org.uk address.

Clive Bryant – Assistant Group Secretary
Tom Taylor – Industrial Officer

R&C/BB/58/14

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