BRANCH & SECTION INFORMATION NETWORK
The information below was collated a year ago and is presented as a 'snapshot' view to show the situation both within Cafcass and Probation.
We agreed a Cafcass Workloads Policy in 2004 and there was a Time Recording Exercise in April 2008 that had quite dramatic results which were not shared until 1st October 2008. There is a Workloads Sub Committee of the National Partnership Committee which is looking for an agreed way to revise the existing Workloads Policy; this committee has been magically energised by Napo's campaign! Even the Chief Executive felt it necessary to e-mail all staff about workloads, mainly because he thought we were advising members to refuse work (a crude over-simplification - we wouldn't do this without a ballot)!
We have the Cafcass workload agreement which has been common to all regions since its inception several years ago. The acknowledgement of management of the existence of the agreement and the regular implementation of same has been patchy. I don't think either that members have been quick to cite the agreement when they've felt under pressure. Having said that, in my team, private law allocation has been broadly in line with the agreement. Public law allocation has, I believe, veered from the agreement more often, indeed, I don't think there's ever been any attempt to follow the agreement regarding public law. Our manager has instead sought to allocate fairly across all aspects of work and has generally done so and has been sensitive to the potential overloading of individuals. However, in private law especially, the expectations and demands from Cafcass, coupled with the removal of admin support and the constant changes and new initiatives, which are nearly all focussed on private law practice, have made the workload agreement outdated. If allocations are exceeding the workload agreement they must be hugely excessive. The time recording exercise in April 08 demonstrated all tasks to be underweighted, but private law sec 7 reports were found to take double the current time allowance, Of course, even the data from April 08 has been superseded to the point where 49 hours per s. 7 report would now be an underestimate.
Cheshire does have a Joint Agreement on workload priorities and employee care (attached) which has been in place since the dispute in 2003. It has been reviewed a number of times and since then we have used different methods of workload measurement- mainly caseload/report benchmarks - which was 5 PSRs a month and caseload 50-60 POs & 30 PSOs but this was before changes brought in with high risk/tiering. Then measurement based on points/tiering and eventually the WMT which didn't last long but did bring the caseload benchmark down to 40+ POs who only supervise tier 3 & 4 - PSOs supervise tier 1 & 2 (some tier 3s but should be non-complex cases but this is difficult to monitor) and their caseloads seemed to go extremely high - particularly those supervising UW stand-alone orders and some PSOs were supervising over 100 cases - this was based on only supposed to be two contacts during length of order- but, as we found out, UW orders regularly breach and some PSOs couldn't cope with the demands. This has been dealt with to a degree and Cheshire did recruit more PSOs but, recently, this has been on fixed term contracts so this may change.
We are not currently in dispute but staff are beginning to report being overworked - particularly POs with the constant changes/increase in expectations from policies/legislation etc. We have arranged a meeting with the ACO responsible for CMUs and will be meeting next week.
Cumbria does not have an existing workload agreement. We have a workload prioritisation agreement which, I think, is not the same thing.
My understanding from the previous Chair of Dorset Napo is that she was on a workgroup which was looking at a draft Workload Management Tool. This was to measure our work in a scientific manner. However, it seemed to die a death and get lost in the ether. One member of the Dorset Napo Exec said that when management saw that the Bournemouth Office was showing up as all RED - namely that they didn't have enough people to do the work, then they got scared and dropped it.
When we asked about this at a recent JNCC meeting, we were told that we had a Workload Management Strategy instead. This means that management change the rules a little if they think that a particular area has reached crisis point. An example is that, in our Unpaid Work area, at the moment , because we are working at 50% above our capacity, they have asked sentencers to not give UPW for Under 24% OGRS score. We have yet to see if this works.
Any advice or help would be gratefully accepted but as I say each day there's a new instruction and we are trying to get our heads round them and plug the dyke at each turn.
Gwent & Glamorgan - Gwent
Workload does not appear to be a significant issue in Gwent. The policy hasn’t been used.
Hampshire & Isle of Wight - Hampshire
We were on the brink of agreement until management pulled the plug and said they had to wait for some work being done by NOMS to be completed before they could proceed on workload agreement - not least as they envisage changes to timings in relation to reports and Tier 2 work The so called SBC programme.
This would have been the agreement. Then we get this note from a director:
"I will be able to provide a more detailed update when we meet prior to the next project board. There are a couple of points which would be helpful to share at this stage to keep you updated. As I mentioned at the recent WMT meeting the early priorities work of the SBC programme recommend a significant shift to FDRs in favour of SDRs at the magistrates courts. Although we have yet to receive the outcome of the SBC recommendations, we need to undertake the preparatory work as the projected savings are from April 09. A cross grade review group has been convened to review the FDR/SDR ratios and the utilisation of staff in courts. The group is due to meet next in early February. A targeting matrix for PSRs has been developed and is currently being used as a 'shadow' allocation tool in selected areas, to assess what the impact of implementing the matrix would be.
We are also piloting, on a small scale, with two POs, a template that provides a PSR outside of OASYS. They have been asked to record the amount of time taken to complete a report in this way (plus completion of OASYS if a community order arises).
Quality sampling has taken place of FDRs and a county FDR template will be agreed.’
We have an old workloads agreement but, on management’s own admission, its use is patchy and there is a general attitude of indifference - 'not fit for purpose’, etc. Hampshire is strong on performance and weak on duty of care.
There is an existing workload agreement but this is well out of date and not reflective of the current situation. We are in the process of revising the Employee Care Agreement of which the WMA forms a part.
The Agreement in any case has not been working for some time as the timings for the WMT are well out of date. There was a recent time recording exercise but this was not agreed with the unions, was not user friendly and narrow in scope.
We have some (old) agreements but really these don’t address recent issues.
On the plus side... Offender management has a WLMT (workload management tool) which is produced each month & used by COG (chief officers ) to supposedly assist in the allocation of staff/ work between teams. It has been made more accurate over time, thanks to union involvement & feels like it is fairly accurate. However, COG are very slow in reacting & seem unable to act or believe the figures in front of them !! No dispute at this time, & there is no need for one if they moved some work or staff around but mobility of staff is an issue.
WLMT is accessible to all & OMs can personally request reduction of workload if they go into the red. (However the red is a pretty heavy place to be, even for a month, the equivalent of writing 6 PSRs a week).
Programmes have had a workload of 4 programme sessions a week & we have tried to use this as a bench mark to reduce OM workloads.
Workload for most PSOs is reduced over the last year & LPA is reducing PSRs by increasing FDRs at court.
The rise in DV cases & licences for serious offenders is changing the balance of work & team make up, with the need for more POs in OM teams, but a reduction in PSOs....so this needs to be addressed too.
Our agreement is woefully outdated - there has been Union/employer agreement for this to be reviewed, commenced in 2008, at bit of a standstill at present. We do have WMT operational (which we've worked hard and long to achieve) using national timings. Its not perfect however staff do refer to this in respect of their workloads and allocations, also allowances for training, annual leave etc can be built into the tool and again staff are getting better at making sure their "unavailability" for work is also registered. The absence of a NOMS lead/commitment in respect of WMT and talk of "other" measurements being imminent has impeded our progress methinks.
We have a locally agreed Workload Priorities Framework document and a locally built workload tool. Also, senior management has worked with us to formulate an action plan in order to resolve workloads. We are now on our second action plan, but still many staff members are in Double Red. Attached is a copy of the priorities document, though we recently made amendments - will send through the latest copy once I get hold of it.
South Western - Devon & Cornwall
At the present time, although the agreement is limited, we are not in dispute in this area. However, we are beginning to find more and more members significantly in the red (some people are showing 200% on their time sheets) and the red letter system we have set up is now progressing.
Staffordshire is working on a workload measurement tool based on the Warwickshire model - it never seems to get completed so I can not send you an electronic copy. The good news is that we have been able to negotiate with SPOs who see it in a positive light as a vehicle to measure resource need etc. The bad news is that there is inconsistent practice across the area. I think that where workload allows, time is given to the tool but otherwise the expectation is to 'get on with it'. At the moment there are moans in certain teams but no talk of dispute.
I have been involved with workload measurement for some time. The process of talking about it has been useful as we can be seen to be working together and in Staffordshire we enjoy a good working relationship with senior management. I get the impression that changes are ahead and no manager wants to corner themselves.
Trent - Derbyshire
Derbyshire use their own agreement, which seems to be working fairly well.