UC Service Centres and JC Festive Leave
Date: 14th October 2020 | DWP/MB/142/20.
To: Members in UC SCs & JCs, Department for Work & Pensions Group
GEC negotiators met with Work and Health management on 8 October to discuss the proposed leave levels over the Festive period.
At the meeting we highlighted our concern that the % levels had been shared to site managers to work to before they had been discussed with the union. W & H management apologised for this and have undertaken to ensure that this is better managed in future.Local discussions about additional flexibility
The business has set minimum absence % levels for UC and have said that they will seek to agree additional local flexibility above these levels in discussion with local TU branches. It is important that these discussions take place in all branches before leave is confirmed so that additional flexibility can be agreed wherever possible.
They also confirmed that in sites where there is a high level of Non-working days during the period that there will be additional flexibility applied to the % levels so that the members in those sites still have access to reasonable levels of leave throughout the Festive Period.Members in the office and WFH have equal access to leave
W & H management also agreed that it would be ensured that members in offices and working from home have equal access to leave over the period, with neither group either favoured or disadvantaged.
Negotiators highlighted that instances had been raised where the requests for leave had not been done as a “clean gather” where members are asked for their preferences for leave over the period without restriction to gauge the demand for leave accurately. W & H management agreed to re-iterate to site managers that this should be the way leave was gathered and if it was restricted to allow members to put down their genuine preferences before any decisions are made on who is allowed off.
W & H also gave a firm assurance that there should be no instances of “names in a hat” and that all decisions on leave requests should be made by managers on the basis of individual circumstances.
Autonomy over Face to Face meetings will ease pressure in JCs
The GEC made the point that given the agreement of autonomy for Work Coaches to decide on the best way that claimants can be supported it should be easier to manage the numbers needed in JCs over the festive period. It was agreed that as no pressure will be put on members to see claimants Face to Face, this will allow the numbers in JCs to be kept at a minimum safe level to open if needed, and that appointments could be managed remotely wherever appropriate. Important to maximise leave after a hard year
In the talks the GEC negotiators made clear our view that after a trying year, where members have delivered for the public magnificently despite the huge problems the Coronavirus has presented, it is vital that members are given the opportunity to relax and spend time with their families.
W & H management agreed that all that can be done to agree members’ requests should be done and that requests should be looked at favourably wherever possible whilst maintaining the service to the public and numbers which ensure safety in the offices.
Annette Rochester - Group Vice President
Steve Swainston - PCS Group Assistant Secretary
Ian Pope - PCS Group Assistant Secretary