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Napo has won an important victory in the Employment Tribunal, securing paid contractual notice for members who retire or are dismissed after periods of long-term absence. The win is important for staff who fall ill and have to leave after prolonged illness but it also resonates for all staff transferring into the National Probation Service (NPS).
In 2016, the NPS stopped recognising members’ contractual right to notice pay as set out in the National Transfer Agreement and sought to impose the standard civil service measures when someone was dismissed after a prolonged period of absence. This meant if someone was on half pay when they were dismissed notice was paid at half pay. If they had exhausted their sick pay by the point of their dismissal they got zero pay-in-lieu-of-notice (PILON).
Napo witnessed this impacting on many of our most vulnerable members – especially those who had been seeking ill-health early retirement and where NPS maladministration increased the time they were off and so the risk of leaving with no PILON. Napo AGS, Dean Rogers, who led the challenge said, “There was a particular cruelty in many of these cases. It was utterly impossible to complete the IHER process without going onto half pay and almost impossible before exhausting sick pay. This was demonstrated at the ET.”
That wasn’t however why Napo won. We won because the Tribunal judge agreed that the notice terms set out in the Staff Transfer Agreement, and which the NPS had applied until 2016, had contractual status. The ET also noted the NPS sought to negotiate a change after 2016, even whilst saying the terms were not contractual and so not subject to negotiation. Dean adds, “If the NPS position had stood then it would have undermined confidence in the existing and any future Staff Transfer Agreement. With significant numbers expecting to transfer into the NPS as part of new probation reforms, confidence in any terms that are agreed is vital. By taking and winning the case Napo have shown we’ll remain vigilante and protect members’ interests, even when the Government thinks they can do whatever they like.”