Family Court Section puts the brake on unilateral changes to workload measurement

It was of some concern to see the unwelcome developments around the intention of CAFCASS senior management to unilaterally impose further changes to the workload weighting scheme. The section negotiators were not originally consulted about these changes and quickly indicated that they certainly did not support them. I am reliably informed that they would have done nothing to improve the measure of workloads and appeared to be solely designed to shift staff from higher weighting bands to lower ones.

As our CAFCASS members will be aware, the motion below was passed at the recent Napo Family Court Section AGM and outlined members concerns about the relentless pressure placed upon them by unsustainable high workloads and it also raised concerns about the operation of the workload weighting scheme.

“The workload pressure upon our members is intolerable. This AGM instructs the section executive committee and the negotiating committee to lodge a formal dispute with Cafcass management unless satisfactory progress is made in the next 6 months to bring about a real and significant improvement in this situation.

The initiation of the workload weighting scheme and the associated guidance jointly agreed between the trade unions and senior managers led to the resolution of the previous workload dispute.

The view of this AGM is that the   workload weighting scheme in its current form is not an effective measure of FCA workloads and moreover the jointly agree guidance is not routinely followed.

Unendurable workloads are not only an issue effecting FCA’s, our Practice supervisor members and service manager members also face unstainable pressures.

This AGM instructs our Family Court officers and officials to raise these matters at the next partnership meeting and seek reaffirmation of the principles of the previously agreed workload guidance and the re-establishment of a sub-committee that will meet regularly to review actions in respect of reducing workload pressures on our members and  review the operation of the workload weighting tool, with a view to achieving a workload measure that accurately reflects the work that FCA’s are undertaking."

The issues were aired at a partnership meeting between the trade unions and management where the unions were not especially encouraged by the initial response which attempted to present a picture of an improving situation, which was seriously at odds with what members have been saying.  

Second thoughts

It was good to hear that common sense has prevailed and management confirming that for a number of reasons a decision had been taken not to make any changes at this time. The deferment does allow an opportunity for senior management to meet with Napo at partnership level and properly explain why they feel that a reset is necessary. More news on developments will follow from the section reps in due course.

 CAFCASS members accept pay offer

After an e-consultation over the last three weeks Napo members have voted by a significant majority to accept the 2017-18 Cafcass pay offer.

The offer was for:

  • A 1 % fully consolidated and fully pensionable increase for all staff
  • A 1% fully consolidated and fully pensionable increase on London weighting
  • Backdated revalorisation of Band 8 and Band 9 point to remove the disproportionate impact of meeting the Local Government Pension Scheme contribution thresholds.

Napo’s Family Court Section Committee Representatives will be informing Cafcass management of the result and I understand from Dean Rogers that we anticipate members receiving their backdated award in their December pay. The award is backdated to the 1st April 2017.

As set out in our pay consultation commentary, Napo will now be looking to go straight into further pay negotiations ahead of Cafcass submitting a pay remit for 2018 and beyond.

Here is the official letter from CAFCASS

More on Monday

When I will have attended a speech by the Justice Secretary and will have a bit to say about the Annual HMI Probation report from Dame Glenys Stacey which once again articulates the serious problems that the service is facing.

We issued an interim press release yesterday and here is the link to this and the report itself.

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog