Tag Archives: PMS

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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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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