Saturday, 6 June 2015

Guest Blog 38

NPS: Summer of Discontent?

There are several NPS offices where summer leave is still awaiting approval and yes, some staff have booked and paid for their holidays already. I understand that a particular NPS problem post TR split, is the number of staff working reduced or condensed hours, leaving offices under staffed on Mondays and Fridays already, without the pressure of Summer Leave. 


Some areas have been quick to anticipate this and advertised for report writers on a fee basis so they at least can alleviate some of the looming pressures. But what happens during Summer in those areas where senior managers have failed to plan? Staff will have to cover colleagues’ work with reports coming in thick and fast (remember the Court Team staff will be on Leave too) and some colleagues will also be taking reports from other areas (written in their own time for payment but, leaving no spare capacity). NPS staff have been told “toil no longer exists” so why should they work longer hours unpaid?

There is a real risk to the health and wellbeing of staff and for some this has already resulted in work making them ill. Yes, certified by their GPs as “work related stress” so it is not in dispute in terms of a legally defensible diagnosis. So, given the lack of strategic planning by the employer (in some areas) and the entirely foreseeable consequences of unmanageable workloads over the coming months, staff are likely to suffer increased stress levels. Something has to be done.

Is now the time to offer paid overtime to practitioners? This would put some control and a sense of worth back in the hands of those who deliver the NPS front line service. I notice on the Shared Services claim forms there is a NOMS overtime drop down from the menu, indicating there is capacity to pay this (for some, so who is getting paid overtime already?). So why should staff not be offered appropriate reward for going above and beyond to ensure service delivery?

I am sad that this has not been anticipated by the Unions, but there we are. The point is, the employer does not hold all the cards at this time, staff do. I ask readers to consider what we have lost thus far in a climate where we have been taken utterly for granted. Well, this is the time the employer really needs us so it is in our hands to deliver extra….. or not. Now there’s a thought, too…..

A PO

25 comments:

  1. Very similar scenarios in some CRC offices too, though thankfully toil hasn't been scrapped...yet!

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  2. Is TOIL being scrapped an official policy? Not heard of this. NPS North West, we're working overtime when DELIUS is available....

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  3. If people have paid for their holidays, then I'm sure those people will be going on those holidays. If leave is not approved in time then people are just going to get sick notes to cover their holiday time.
    That would of course increase the number of staff off work with work related illness quite a bit.
    It must then give grave cause for concern that such a high percentage of staff are falling ill as a consequence of working practices?
    There's an oppertunity about to present itself, and the union must grab it with both hands.
    As for paid overtime? I think there's more chance of my granny laying a duck egg!

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  4. I've worked in private sector and you didn't book holidays never mind paying for them said holidays until your leave was signed off. Toil is also something that seems to dominate Public Sector, no such thing in private companies. If you work longer hours to accommodate your work load then thanks very much. Long Term Work related illness in a private company will result in dismissal after the steps that they need to take before doing that, so welcome to the world of private business practices. I think alot of people will seriously need to rethink working overtime and work life balance. Think of your health and family first.

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    1. private companies usually pay overtime !

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    2. As annon 18:44 rightly points out, private companies pay you for your overtime. The service has taken for granted long enough that staff will put the extra hours in and that they in turn make it very difficult to claim that time back within the month. Maybe it's time to start invoicing for those extra hours if the service do not facilitate the opportunity to take back time as toil. Once it starts costing our new private masters money they will soon start giving folks time back.

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    3. ......and they hand out huge bonuses!

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  5. Probation Officer6 June 2015 at 12:36

    If Napo was any use then Toil would be replaced with overtime pay. There is even an overtime form on the system but we can't use it.

    Directors receive payment for being on call out of hours. Another senior management practice is to book time off for built up toil only to then come in on those days and claim it back as an unsocial hours payment, ie overtime. I'm sure there's lots of other practices too which are inapplicable unless you're over a particular pay grade.

    Taking toil doesn't work for me as I've never the time to take it. Instead I keep to my hours and there's always a huge backlog of tasks. We are part of NOMS but seem to be the only agency that doesn't get overtime pay. It's about time us minions get paid for what we do too, and until then stick to your hours because too much work is your managers problem and not yours!

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  6. In my office the manager still has not agreed summer holidays and is hanging onto everyone's leave cards 'cos we are short staffed now and it is stopping us requesting odd days off. When someone asked for leave she lost it. We are really dreading August we know we can't cope and either will arrive back from holidays to chaos or go on holiday exhausted. None of the private sector crap please, I worked in private sector for 20 years and I have never known leave applications not be dealt with straight away and parked without a decision as we have now. Also private sector managers behave very professionally IMO and do not treat staff the way public sector does now.

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  7. They just expect us to do whatever work there is...don't dare refuse.....you will get your holidays when we say.....forget your home life.....if work needs to be done you WILL do it or perhaps we should consider capability......remember work like crazy or we will remember you when redundancies come round.......it is like the bloody dark ages.

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    1. It really frustrates me when posts like this appear to tar all of us managers with the same brush. I manage three reasonably large teams and probably spend far to much time on admin and HR tasks. However, all my staff are aware of my expectations re: minimum staffing cover. I maintain a spreadsheet to track leave (to ensure all have opportunities to take leave at the hot spot times throughout the year). In the last two years I've only once had to refuse a leave request but it was done at point of request so the staff was able to find an alternative date easily.
      In addition, I also have a close overview of their TOIL and ensure they (and I) take TOIL appropriately. I prioritise staff arriving a work/life balance and value them all each and every one!

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    2. Course you do and well have a coke and teach the world to sing in perfect harmony, grow apple trees and honey bees and snow white turtle doves.

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    3. re: 00:44 WTF!! Clearly there are sine disgruntled staff in the NPS and with good reason. Don't assume however that every manager is like that! My manager (I'm a PO) certainly isn't and I know our team respect the role they play, often caught between the reality of practice and instructions of SMT. I know not all are like that (including in our office) but some are trying to do what's right, the same as we are. Your kind of comment is simply rude, offensive and questions why you are even in the service!! I feel sorry for your colleagues.

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  8. As an admin manager, I once got a call in the middle of the night from an on call SPO, asking if I'd meet him at the office, as the alarm had been triggered and we'd had an incident with a client making threats and he was hesitant go alone to investigate. I lived nearby and it wasn't a problem. All was well and at the end of the month, he bunged me 20 quid, saying it was half of his call out payment. Same thing happened again a couple of weeks after and I said I'd go on my own to save him a longish journey. I thought it would make sense if I became the named key holder and broached it with HR. They said only if I did it voluntarily, as unsociable hours call out payments weren't payable to admin grades!. I told them what they could do with the keys...

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    1. All animals are equal...........

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  9. So the "one year on" message about how well NPS was doing falls at the first hurdle, staff who loyally delivered now can't even get their annual leave approved/confirmed - it is disgraceful

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  10. Let's stop this private vs. public sector who is worst argument. There is good practice and bad in both. It is down to individual managers to make a workplace unnecessarily oppressive.

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  11. Isn't leave a statutory requirement by law? I think they can ask you to take it when business needs dictate but to sit on leave requests without giving you an alternative time frame is of concern.

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  12. 28 years behind bars; that’s what Judge Mark Ciavarella Jr. has been sentenced to for literally selling children to private prisons for a profit.

    Ciavarella, a Pennsylvania judge, was sentenced to 28 years in prison for taking money under the table from a developer and jailing thousands of kids and adults. Some of these kids are as young as ten years old. Viacarella made more than a million dollars off this scheme.

    Around 4,000 convictions that were issued by Ciavarella between 2003 and 2008 have been overturned by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court due to his violations of their constitutional rights.

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  13. I notice there's been no wide release of the joint union & Sodexo Friday 5 June statement regarding negotiations over redundancy figures being put on hold yet again until next Weds 10 June. Has anyone seen it?

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    1. Napo and soditexo yet again talking on joint statement for how to sack its staff and members . No I have not seen it but it is incredible a union can be involved in anything like this. If sodexo cuts staff then let them get on with it do their own paper and we fight it on every front with every member like a union should GROW UP NAPO.

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    2. " Sodexo workforce reductions

      Napo / Unison and GMB met with senior Sodexo management in London this morning. Napo were represented by Ian Lawrence, Yvonne Pattison and Ranjit Singh.

      Following what was a comprehensive exchange of views the following joint statement was agreed by the parties:

      Sodexo and the Probation Trade Unions met today (Friday 5 June) to discuss the Sodexo proposals for workforce reductions and the redundancy terms associated with that. Both parties agreed to meet again on Wednesday10th June. Further information will be released after that date.

      Ian Lawrence
      General Secretary "

      https://www.napo.org.uk/news/sodexo-workforce-reductions

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    3. The language of 'workforce reductions' is so euphemistic and pragmatic. I don't think the unions should be complicit. To everyone else these are cuts to the workforce to an already overstretched workforce.

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    4. Probation Officer7 June 2015 at 10:24

      Shows just how weak and/or out of touch Napo is. Napo should not be using any wording other than redundancies' and 'cuts'. If at this stage Ian Lawrence is signing off statements and small print favourable to Sodexo, then it is quite clear what the outcome of these 'talks' will be.

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  14. Well put George! Not all managers are bad. It's happening again divide and let's stop bickering & fighting amongst ourselves. I'd advise that if managers are not working according to policy then take appropriate action just like they would re performance etc. As for members working to contracted hours - well forget it they won't, Napo have asked members to do that before but was unsuccessful! I repeat member's need to open their eye's and take appropriate action, get involved - unity in numbers!!!

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