Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Latest From Napo HQ 7

This is the latest e-mail from Napo HQ received earlier today:- 

Dear All
There is a mass of information out there about staff assignment and grievances and it can be hard to keep up.  We’ve collated some FAQs which we hope will help.  We know the government is trying to trample all over us so we need to make ourselves heard.  Our campaign has to aim squarely at the government but the Trusts are still our employers (although many of them feel completely trampled on too) and they need to do the right thing.
Why is Napo advising members to register grievances?
An un-agreed staff assignment process has now been imposed but we have no information about the new employers.  Existing law allows the Secretary of State to issue directions for staff to be individually consulted.  This would address some of our concerns but Grayling has refused it because it would delay the timetable (see letters below) so we are forced into registering grievances instead.  We accept that this might slow the process but that is secondary and we make no apology for that- we are here to ensure that members are treated properly at work and we will use the necessary means to achieve that.

Will my grievance get lumped with others and be heard collectively?

There is a risk that the MoJ will direct Trusts to deal with the grievances as a “job lot”.  This concerns us because it still means that individual members and your personal circumstances will not be properly recognised or attended to.  For that reason, you must clearly spell out how the process is impacting on you as an individual.
I’m worried that registering a grievance will place me at a disadvantage.  Will it?
No. Certainly not. It can’t - if you feel aggrieved, you have the right to ask your employer to attend to it. That the question is even being asked by members is a depressing sign of the bullying behaviour of some Trusts.  However, not all Trusts are the same.  Some Chiefs have even been tweeting that staff rights will be completely respected in these difficult times. You are 100% protected in exercising your rights at work.

I have received an automatic assignment letter.  Can I register a grievance?
Yes.  You are as much in the dark about what the future holds as everyone else.
I have received an expression of interest letter.  Can I register a grievance?
Yes. For the same reasons as above.
Should I register an expression of interest?
This is a matter for individuals.  Most members have fed back that they would prefer to register an interest because they are worried about the consequences of being assigned.  That might happen anyway.  What we recommend is that members sign if they want to BUT you should make a statement on the letter that you feel you are being forced into making a decision on the basis of no information.  Do this as well as your grievance and you will have as much protection as possible if things go wrong during the proposed transfer.

My Trust is refusing to accept my Grievance and saying I should appeal instead.  Is that right?
No. Trusts are making a really odd decision here in terms of their own liability and they are denying staff an opportunity to be heard.  An appeal process should be in place but, in legal terms, it is too late to feel aggrieved because the decision has already been made.  Registering a grievance now will give you protection in the future.  If your Trust is refusing - you should still do it anyway - read this:
“There is no requirement in law per se to hear a grievance, but obviously any refusal would evidence unreasonable conduct on behalf of the employers.  It may also be a breach of the ACAS Code on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures, which the Tribunal use as guidance when considering disciplinary and grievance matters.  If an Employment Tribunal claim were to be established at a later date (eg unfair dismissal or a discrimination claim) then the Employment Tribunal would have discretion to increase any compensation awarded by up to 25% as a result of the failure to comply with the ACAS Code.” (Thompsons Solicitors 16th December 2013)

I’ve registered my grievance and it has been accepted.  What happens now?
In most grievance procedures, your line manager should offer to meet informally with you to see if the difficulties are resolved.  You should take this opportunity.  Most line managers will not be able to answer all the questions we have because they are in the same boat and will be registering grievances with their line managers too.  This shouldn’t be considered a waste of time as it allows for a formal meeting to demonstrate the Trusts’ duty of care to you.  If you feel that the questions have not been answered.  You should read the grievance policy and opt for a formal investigation.
My grievance has not been accepted.  What happens now?
You should keep a record of this and bear in mind the legal advice above - you may need it at a later date.  You may have to look towards other avenues.  If you feel stressed by Transforming Rehabilitation, your Trust may have a specific policy to deal with stress.  Don’t be afraid to use it.  With already high workloads, there is no excuse to put you under additional pressure. 

We are all stressed by Transforming Rehabilitation and the working environment is awful.  What can we do?
When high workloads, stress, chaos and fragmentation reign at work, mistakes can happen.  If you feel stressed and under pressure, make it formal (see above outline). There may be very little your immediate colleagues can do in practical terms because we are all in a similar situation but you need a record for your own protection.
Will a grievance affect my right of appeal?
No.  You can do both.  We can’t emphasise that enough.

Should I appeal?
You can appeal whether you have been auto assigned or expressed an interest (under duress) and then been assigned.  The grounds of appeal are very narrow and the unions wanted a fourth ground - essentially, that you had been treated differently and that the assignment could impact on you unfairly.  We would encourage all members who wish to appeal to do so whether your own personal circumstances fit exactly into the criteria or not.  The appeal period is over Christmas and it would take an incredibly generous soul not to see that as deliberate on the MoJ’s part.
What else is Napo doing nationally to ensure that individual members are listened to? 
With reference to the issue above about the Secretary of State issuing directions for individual staff consultations, please see the letter exchange between Chris Grayling and Ian Lawrence on that issue [attached].  At present, the Minister feels the delay is cause of the stress rather than the project itself and wants to continue at great speed.  We don’t agree.  On the contrary, we think some slowing down of the timetable is necessary for members to be treated properly and the public kept safe.

Tom Rendon                Ian Lawrence
National Chair             General Secretary


  1. "Should I register an expression of interest? This is a matter for individuals"

    As an individual I have decided not to register and expression of interest.

  2. I'm a bit of a news hound, and have a daily web route for anything that can link to TR or bad news for Grayling or the MoJ.
    In the last two days quite a few of the articles I've tried to access comes up with 'article not found' and a big '404' accross the screen. Does anyone else have this problem or know what 404 means? Its never happened before.

  3. 404 means 'file not found'. Ie its gone...