Back at the start of October, PCS received notice from HMRC that they intended to open consultation with the unions recognised by the employer on whether the longstanding provision of collecting trade union subscriptions via the payroll should continue. The Department have now formally announced to staff that this consultation will take place with a view to a decision being taken in the next couple of weeks.
It was only last August that HMRC made it clear that they had no plans to consider the withdrawal of check off.
HMRC’s announcement comes at a time when a series of government departments and agencies have moved to withdraw check off. For example; in the case of the Home Office this facility ended last month and in the DWP it is expected that notice will be given for it to finish in early 2015.
HMRC have stated that they want to ensure that the consultation is thorough and serious. The union believe that the consultation period on this important issue is far too tight and we have made it clear that the Chief Executive’s deadline for making a decision must be extended to ensure that all of the necessary issues are investigated and properly considered. Critically, the employer needs to be able to reassure everyone that this is not a politically motivated rush job.
Meetings have been scheduled with the employer and our negotiators will ensure that the case for the retention of check-off is made robustly. HMRC contend that the outcome of this consultation is by no means certain. However in every instance where a government department has opened formal consultation on this issue the outcome has been that check-off has been withdrawn. We must therefore plan on the basis that check-off will be withdrawn, that is why all members are asked to register their details for the move to direct debit now.
In response to the likely withdrawal of check-off facilities PCS is asking that all members register their details so that your PCS subscription can be collected via direct debit. You can do so online here. Reps in the branch will also be reminding members of the need to sign up and handing out forms this week and next.
We will provide you with further updates as the consultation progresses. If you have any comments on the consultation please pass them on to one of your local reps or the branch secretary.