The shameful Attendance Management shambles

The Probation Negotiating Committee met yesterday to look at a range of issues, and their valuable input into the life and fabric of this union is an important element of the leadership’s valued partnership with Napo's elected representatives.

Their decisions and recommendations will feature in the reports that are submitted to the National Executive Committee (NEC), who will themselves be busy next month.  The NEC have a reconvened meeting which will follow the Napo Pay Forum on 6th June as well as their already scheduled meeting on 22nd June.

Among the myriad of issues that we spent time on yesterday was the  notorious Attendance Management Policy, which I must say, ranks as one of  the most clumsily handled and totally incomprehensible pieces of gibberish that I have ever seen foisted on our members.

Launched without anything approaching meaningful engagement with the unions, and accompanied by guidance which is about as obscure and contradictory as can actually be possible, the policy has caused abject misery for scores of members and a huge increase in personal cases for our hard pressed reps.

Here at the centre we have been doing all we can to impress upon HMPPS senior management just what a fine mess they have got us into, but also to try and explain to reps and members what the correct interpretation ought to be on the emotive issues of trigger points, managers discretion, and the way in which serious underlying conditions ought to be sensitively handled.

Safe to say this whole issue is right up there with the farcical situation (see previous blog postings) around the Shared Services Division (SSCL) non-service which has seen people unpaid for weeks and/or being provided with duff information which merely compounds their particular problem.

In terms of the Attendance Management Policy we are regularly reviewing our approach and information for reps in light of the regular feedback we have been getting and this will feed into the workshop sessions that are in the process of being organised for Union reps, NPS divisional HR leads and managers which will hopefully bring some clarity to this nonsense and ensure that a level of consistency might be established and respected by the parties.

As members will recall the legal advice we received was that there wasn’t anything directly discriminatory about the Attendance Management policy but that we could expect to see individual discrimination cases emerge.

So we are on the lookout to see where legal redress might be possible but the evidence so far shows that there hasn’t been a particular increase in these cases yet but it is still relatively early days for dismissal cases to emerge.

One of the biggest problems for us is that we cannot get management nationally to engage upon hypotheticals or unattributed anecdotes so what Napo needs at the centre is a clearer running total of cases being managed and supported locally that we can present to senior decision makers.

While we look to systematically address this it is vital that we receive continual feedback on the issues that reps are grappling with and some anonymised case studies that we can get included on the joint workshops.

I hope this helps to show how seriously we are taking these issues which of course are not of Napo's making.

Please use NPS contacts to press local issues

The above problems are among the many that our reps in the NPS divisions are encountering, and which we seek to escalate to the regular HMPPS HR Engagement meetings.

The problem here is that it is simply too much to expect every issue to be raised and resolved at this national forum when it might be more feasible to first try and exhaust the dialogue locally with the NPS divisions HR Business Partner with the assistance of your nominated National Link Officer.

Remember also that notwithstanding the demise of the former NNC structures, a dispute is still a dispute, and will need to be addressed as we seek to finalise a replacement national negotiating structure with the NPS

GFTU offers us so much

The General Federation of Trade Unions have just held their biannual conference in Stratford-Upon-Avon which was attended by National Co-Chair Yvonne Pattison and myself.

Here Napo made a major contribution, submitting four highly topical motions covering the disastrous Probation reforms and the cause and effect of SFOs, strategies against Domestic Violence and two on the imperative for unions to consider their options for sharing and pooling services and resources.

Napo is leading by example here, as we finalise an innovative partnership with the Association of Educational Psychologists which will see members of our respective National Representatives or equivalents take on casework with Napo securing an administration fee.

Adverts for vacancies on an enlarged Napo Representative panel have gone out to Napo Branches and we have already learnt a lot more about the important contribution that AEP members make to society and have helped them enhance their knowledge of what our members do as well.

The GFTU affiliate unions include those who have a political fund and those who do not and unions who are affiliated to the Labour Party and those who are not. Napo is in the latter of both categories and we were therefore only able to abstain on an emergency motion which called on the GFTU affiliates to do all they can to promote Labour Party policies during the General Election campaign and to encourage their members to vote accordingly.

Any of our members who have heard me speak at AGM or Branch Meetings will know where I stand personally on the need to hold this government to account. For we have the worst crisis our NHS has ever faced, the biggest drop in living standards for young people since the era of Queen Victoria, the  ongoing threats to our pensions, the worsening of working conditions, the 7 year public sector pay freeze, Zero hours contracts and a rise in bullying and harassment in workplaces. Add to this the drastic education cuts, draconian trade union legislation and the disastrous breakup of the Probation Service and it’s no surprise that I am happy to inform you that the GFTU conference overwhelmingly carried that motion.


No apologies from me for continuing to promote these two very important events which will soon be upon us, so please check out your diaries for the:

Napo Family Court Professional Conference – Thursday 15th June 2017

Napo's Family Court Section has kindly extended their invitation to all Napo members working in probation services to attend at the Yarnfield Park Training and Conference Centre, Stone, Staffordshire, ST15 ONL.  From 10.30am to 4.30pm, (registration from 9.30am).

Transport will be provided from the closest mainline rail stations, Stafford and Stoke-on-Trent.  Transport and subsistence expenses for non-CAFCASS staff will need to be covered by your Napo branch, so please check with them before registering. Lunch and refreshments are provided.

The theme of the conference is “Modern Day Challenges.” Confirmed keynote speakers are the Complex Investigation Team, Leicestershire Crime Directorate on Modern Day Slavery and Penny Logan, and Cafcass Legal on Radicalisation.

In the afternoon there will be workshops on; Radicalisation (a different perspective,) Issues Facing Young Asylum Seekers and CSE.

Napo’s Family Court annual conference has developed a reputation for intellectually stimulating contributions and discussions and I hope you will be able to attend this year’s event.

As I reported last week, all Women members attending the Family Court Professional Conference are welcome to stay on for the Women in Napo Conference at the same venue the following day.

Here are the details:

Speakers will include:

On women in prison and in the community:

  • Dame Glenys Stacey DBE, Chief HM Inspector of Probation
  • Rachel Goldhill, Portsmouth University – Reflections on working with vulnerable women
  • Joy Doal, Chief executive of ANAWIM Women’s Centre

On women’s occupational health:

  • Professor Myra Hunter, Kings College London on results from 2016 survey of Napo women’s health and safety at work
  • Janet Newsham, Manchester Hazards Centre

There will also be workshops running throughout the day.

Blog type: 
General Secretary's Blog