Reproduced below are two very important Branch Bulletins from the Revenue & Customs Group Executive. We understand that Excom has recently concluded that it will introduce detrimental changes to the current performance management arrangements from 1st April 2013. PCS fundamentally oppose any new arrangements proposed on this basis.
All members are encouraged to read and to discuss the issues with your colleagues and voice your opposition in all work meetings and forums.
BB 34/13: HMRC Performance Management ‘Proposals’
PCS negotiators are confronted with a range of HR policy proposals flowing from the Civil Service Employee Policy (CSEP). CSEP is a Cabinet Office driven process for revising terms and conditions announced as part of the Civil Service Reform Plan.
Under the Plan the Cabinet Office requires all civil service departments and agencies to review all terms and conditions of service and consider the introduction of detrimental changes.
A circular setting out the full range of CSEP proposals that are emerging in HMRC is being prepared and will be circulated to Branches shortly. The policies under review include performance management, travel disruption, special leave and the civil service competency framework.
This briefing focuses on performance management in HMRC.
We understand that Excom has recently concluded that it will introduce detrimental changes to the current performance management arrangements from 1st April 2013.
To date PCS has had no meaningful negotiations on any proposed changes and we have written to the employer seeking urgent talks about their intentions. We met today with the employer’s representatives, including Joe Dugdale head HR Policy & Operations, & asked them to agree that no changes to the current arrangements take place until we have concluded any talks. HMRC considered our request but have now rejected it indicating that they will press ahead with the introduction of new Performance Management arrangements from 1st April 2013.
There is no centrally agreed model policy on performance management and poor performance and we have made clear to HMRC our view that any changes should only be adopted following consultation with PCS via our departmental trade union side.
In particular we are seeking discussions around consideration by the employer on any new guided distribution mechanisms. Excom have apparently already decided that the following distribution will apply from 2013/14:
- Exceeded 20% of staff
- Achieved 70% of staff
- Must improve 10% of staff
It goes without saying that PCS fundamentally oppose any new arrangements proposed on this basis.
Members will note that under the current policy 1.4% of staff currently receive the ‘improvement needed’ marking.
Evidence suggests that minority groups such as part time workers, disabled workers and others are disproportionately impacted by the current arrangements. We are concerned that this situation could be exacerbated by the new system. We are also anxious to understand any possible detrimental impact on pay that might arise from revised proposals.
To set out to forcibly and radically increase the number of staff who are deemed to be ‘failing’ without any sensible reasons for change or worked out justifications would be a significant and extremely provocative move and one we suggest that needs to be carefully reconsidered.
We will oppose any proposals that fail to offer a system which supports the career development and aspirations of our members. We will reject any proposals that threaten an approach based on relative assessment, quotas and moderation designed to undermine the confidence and aspirations of members and that possibly lead to an increase in dismissals.
We have grave concerns over the lack of meaningful negotiations to date and that is why we are now seeking to escalate our concerns to the highest level. But we also must now alert members to potential changes. We urge every Branch to make this Circular widely available to members to alert them to these proposals.
We should be clear that the wider Cabinet Office driven CSEP is nothing to do with improved performance and is, in fact, yet another attack on civil servants driven by Ministers who want to tear up hard fought for terms and conditions and make our working lives a misery.
The Cabinet Office appear to believe that underperformance within the Civil Service is endemic and is therefore seeking to promote a “management through fear” culture throughout the public sector. This must be resisted. We will provide a further update to members in the near future.
BB 35/13: Performance Management – Oppose Detrimental Changes
Branch briefing 34/13 reported that HMRC are planning to introduce changes to their performance management policy from 1 April 2013. The new policy will demand 10% of staff be declared as ‘failing’. These changes have not been agreed with PCS and we believe that they form part of an ideological drive across government to chip away at our terms and conditions, further restrain pay levels and help the employer to discipline and sack workers.
Branch briefing 34/13 reported that HMRC are planning to introduce changes to their performance management policy from 1 April 2013. The new policy will demand 10% of staff be declared as ‘failing’.
These changes have not been agreed with PCS and we believe that they form part of an ideological drive across government to chip away at our terms and conditions, further restrain pay levels and help the employer to discipline and sack workers.
Branches are therefore urged to circulate 34/13 and this briefing as a matter of urgency to all members.
We have raised these issues with the employer but they remain determined to introduce this policy, placing a further burden on an already overworked and stressed workforce. At a time when we are enduring the worst economic crisis for over 60 years we should be concentrating fully on our core function of collecting taxes and closing the tax gap.
It is totally wrong to introduce changes which have the potential to further exacerbate the detrimental impact performance management systems have had on workers in HMRC. We have already demonstrated to the employer that workers from minority groups are negatively affected disproportionately by the current HMRC PM system.
Our considered view is that this policy is flawed and therefore its introduction must be opposed.
We are calling on branches to assist in this task by fully publicising the employer’s proposals and focussing members’ anger with a view to convincing the employer to review the implementation date and to allow time for proper negotiations with our union.
We are asking all branches to include the issue of performance management in the action plans that are being drawn up for the national campaign ballot which opens on the 8 February and closes on the 4 March.
Branches should carry out the following activities:
- Circulate branch briefings on Performance Management to all members
- Encourage discussion of the proposals in the workplace
- Ensure that the proposals are mentioned in publicity for branch AGMs
- Ensure that the proposals are on AGM agendas
- Draw up motions for discussion at AGMs opposing the proposals
- Encourage members to raise objections to the proposals at every opportunity including through team meetings and HMRC discussion forums
We will continue to press the department to halt its proposals and to engage with our union on this issue. But at the same time, we need branches to be giving us feedback about our members’ reaction and response to this. Branches are asked to email reports to email@example.com by Friday 15 February.
We cannot simply accept these attacks on our members. The changes are designed to intimidate staff and will result in yet more demoralisation.
If the employer is allowed to implement this policy without widespread dissent then it will open the door to further attacks to all our terms and conditions in the future.
Performance Management is one of a number of emerging threats and the full engagement of Branches and members in developing an appropriate response is essential.
Further briefings and advice for members will be issued in due course.