I was not exaggerating in my last Blog post when I said that this week was going to be full of news and so it proved. NPS members have now been sent a consultative ballot in respect of the outcome of negotiations which have taken an age to reach fruition. The covering material explains the reasons why and no doubt you will draw your own conclusions, but following the recommendation by Napo’s Probation Negotiating Committee, members are being asked to accept the package and get your responses in to us by mid-day on 17th April please.
There is one caveat to the proposal in that it is unlikely that the beneficiaries of the new maternity leave arrangements will receive all of their pay entitlements on time but see the section below on the loss of confidence with SSSCL below to get a better appreciation of the problem.
Cafcass activists press for serious attention on workloads
It was good to see the Family Court Section team follow up the directives from the Family Court AGM a few weeks back with a strong letter to senior Cafcass Management and a request to meet urgently to discuss potential solutions.
The statistics below show that the number of public law cases started remained fairly steady between 2011 and 2014, until rising to 16,000 in 2015 and again to nearly 19,000 in 2016, an increase of 18% from the previous year. Although these figures for Q4 2016 show the first downturn since the start of 2015, volumes are still up compared with Q4 2015.
Additionally the number of private law cases started in 2016 increased by 11% over the previous year from 43,347 to 48,244.
I hope these discussions result in some positive steps and that the real concerns of FCS members get the respect they deserve.
Meeting with members NW Approved Premises
To say we have a few issues around staffing, terms and conditions and the crass decision by NPS to invite tenders for waking night cover in AP’s is something of an understatement.
Following a meeting of members in the North West we had reason to write to NOMS senior management in the following terms.
‘We have now had some feedback from the meeting with Napo members in the North West AP’s yesterday. As you know from our previous conversations our key priority has been to work constructively with you to make sure that agreed national processes are being fairly and consistently applied and to try not to inflame tensions that have arisen over the heavy handed application of the medication policy.
To this end we think that the meeting will have been useful to help our members understand what is fair and reasonable and has hopefully calmed things.
However, two significant major issues continue for us. Firstly, trust is and has been undermined by the information that you have been given that there have as yet not been any external advertising of AP residential worker roles. We can now confidently assert that this is not the case. External adverts were placed in January for 40 jobs as AP Night workers across the region, around half in Merseyside. Interviews have been held (with Napo members confirming this as they were on the panel) and 2 people have been appointed (both currently relief workers). Napo will need to reserve our position until we know if any existing workers have been deemed unsuitable but we must record our huge disappointment at this development.
Secondly, we raised with you concerns about jobs being advertised in AP’s for posts that would evidently be in scope for TUPE at the lower Band 1. Napo would be very anxious if this was the case as it would make reassuring members in Band 2 roles who remain in scope, that their terms would or could be sustainable post transfer very difficult – especially if the re-banding had been done out with E3 and in secret.
Indeed, we would be obliged to explore the legality of such an action during a negotiation. Even if it were legal, given the MoJ’s track record of mis-selling contracts, such an action would be of extreme concern. Napo were assured that this wasn’t the case and that there had been no re-banding exercise undertaken or efforts to downgrade the roles to fetter a sale – on the basis that we were advised that these roles would be likely to have been in voluntary sector APs.
We await an explanation about what has gone on as I am sure you do too.’
Probation System Review
It’s close to the time when the outcome of this especially important review will be put before Ministers and, as previously reported, the Justice Select Committee will have a particular interest.
It’s clear from my contact this week with a few people in the CRC sector that critical negotiations over funding are still ongoing and will hopefully be concluded by or around Easter and depending on who one speaks to some pretty mixed messages about how well they are going.
I will keep you posted as to what we know about the publication date, but as far as those people who know about such things are concerned, things are pretty much on schedule.
Workloads Campaign - Huge Response from members to Napo survey on workload impact
As you know by now, part of our 3Cs Workloads Campaign is our request to all members for information about how workload pressures affect you, your colleagues and service users.
We will use this information as part of our briefing for the press and MPs to put pressure on employers, so we do need this back by 14 April 2017.
Please let us have this information anonymously using this link https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/Workloadsimpact
(If you have difficulties completing this at work, please forward to your personal email address).
You will shortly receive more information and guidance on the next action in the campaign which will be lunchtime protests on Workers Memorial Day, Friday 28th April, to highlight the risk and safety concerns about high workloads.
Hopefully NPS members will have by now had an opportunity to read the comprehensive guidance for members and managers that we issued last week but I am happy to put the link here again given the concern that this most dreadful policy is having on our members who are suffering from ill health. If you have any queries regarding these documents please refer them through your branch or your branch link National Officer.
Pay Claim submitted to all employers
If you have read the previous material that we have put out to members you will be aware that Napo believes the current probation pay system to no longer be working or fit for purpose. The many problems have been recognised by NPS negotiators in the ongoing Probation Pay Review talks. We have now written to the Prisons and Probation Minister Sam Gyimah to express the need to show urgency in addressing these failings.
The wider changes taking place across probation – namely the creation of HMPPS on the one hand; and the demise of the NNC on the other, means that we will soon be entering individual negotiations with CRCs at a point when their capacity to manage contractual commitments is already stretched and uncertain until the outcome of the Probation Services Review is known.
The claim comprehensively covers the urgent need to increase probation pay, and also highlights the need for pay reform to align with wider changes to professionalising probation and making the service more robust in the new operating context. The claim is consistent with the ideas emerging from the NPS Pay Reform talks and at this stage we remain positive and hopeful that these will make significant steps towards addressing the structural weaknesses as set out in the document.
More news to follow as soon as we have some.
Here is the pay claim in full
Loss of confidence in shared services and NPS HR functions
Another letter to the Minister has been signed off, this time on the disgraceful and shambolic service provision by SSCL and a host of unresolved problems we have laid on NOMS (as was) doors for ages in some cases. Here’s just one reason why, but see the list of shame below to see just what we have been up against.
‘I have a new member just joined as PSO in her first week. She has no contract, no staff number and NPS haven't even taken her bank details for her wages. She couldn't tell me what her pay is.’
The attachment to the letter to the Minister shows the following problems faced by our members mainly in the NPS, but some of those who are now situated in CRCs.
New Starters not being issued contracts and paid at all (NPS)
Non-payment of pro-rata pay awards to staff who left during the year from 2014-15; 2015-16; and potentially 2016-17 (CRC & NPS)
Failure to include holiday pay in wage and pension calculations for Sessional Staffs since 2014. (NPS & CRC)
Non-payment or incorrect payment of wages, including:
Tax and NI wrong upon appointment
Tax and NI wrong upon change of hours
Basic pay wrong when starting maternity
(Legacy for CRCs accepted – NPS & CRCs)
Failure to calculate compensation correctly when dismissing staff on ‘capability’ grounds, including misapplying CS rules on Pay in Lieu of Notice. These drag on for months as no-one takes responsibility. (NPS)
Taking months to resolve pay errors due to automatic emergency payments, tax and NI adjustments and automatic recoveries complicating things and cutting across human actions. (NPS)
‘Red site’ pay policy not being applied for existing staff so leapfrogging occurs, undermining efforts to address recruitment and retention. (NPS)
Possible non-progression issues as the pay data shared with union’s shows too many staff at or near pay minima. (NPS)
Non-payment of contributions relating to non-payment of previous pay awards to mid-year leavers (see above) (CRC & NPS)
Miscalculation of payments and non-payment of contributions for additional work since 2014 - especially regarding Sessional staff. (CRC & NPS)
Fettering of discretion in relation to application of the 85 year-rule. (NPS)
Failure to support and process ill-health retirement applications in legacy cases for CRCs dating between 1st April 2014 and 1st February 2015 (NPS and CRC)
Staff in NPS roles working alongside NOMS employees or in prison settings being offered NOMS contracts containing the wrong terms and conditions -e.g. LGPS but NOMS leave; wrong pay band; etc. (NPS)
Jobs earmarked for TUPE transfer in Approved Premises being advertised on MoJ sites at the wrong pay band, and below the National Minimum Wage prompting suspicion of fettering the waking night cover contract negotiation process and undermining TUPE. (NPS)
SSCL advising Line Managers that NPS staff have 13 weeks’ notice instead of 12, with implications for notice pay in long term sick and capability cases. (This is an ongoing issue) (NPS)
Miscalculation of length of service for individuals (NPS)
Staff re-entering probation after a break in service being told “they don’t exist” and not offered contracts due to a loss of HR records. (NPS)
Incorrect calculation and payment of maternity leave for NPS staff working in NOMS and/or prisons (NPS)
Staff being consistently told that sick pay and trigger points will be calculated over a 4 year rolling period and not any 12 consecutive months (NPS)
Staff told to turn up at sites to start work without staff at that site knowing when to expect them via the National Recruitment Centre (NPS)
Staff notified of start date before vetting is cleared and then being put on notice when clearance not forthcoming . (NPS)
DISABILITY & AT USERS
Routine failures to implement OH report recommendations (NPS)
ICT MELTDOWN & WORKLOAD PRESSURES INCREASED
Includes offices suddenly losing all telephones and ICT
Whether all this is the fault of SSCL (and let’s not forget there are many staff who are doing their best in chaotic circumstances not of their making) or whether it’s down to HR or a combination thereof, I have told the Minister that it does not exactly inspire confidence.
E3 phase 2 Napo feedback
Against all this it’s a wonder that there is any coherent work going on in the NPS as it moves to phase 2 of its Operational Masterplan otherwise known as E3. Anyway we have this week sent HMPPS management our take on the difficulties that we foresee here, and we will publish these to members shortly.
Do you remember John Hague?
If so, and you were one of the Cohort that graduated alongside him at Keele University 40 years ago, then John who is best known for his stalwart service to Napo members in London and everywhere else over many decades, would be delighted to hear from you. John says: ‘Could I ask Napo for help in contacting colleagues who completed their CQSW at Keele University 40 years ago in June 1977? A get together seems like a good idea.’
It does indeed. You can contact John at firstname.lastname@example.org or on 07889 654525."