When a member is involved in a complex case where their employment is potentially at risk it is vital they have a Representative with the necessary knowledge, experience and, critically, the time to devote to supporting the member.
Many unions of Napo’s size struggle to do this effectively or efficiently – we usually have about 60 cases a year spread all over the country. That’s not enough to justify a few dedicated staff but too many to cover with existing core resources. Napo get around this by using our well-established, highly regarded and hugely successful National Representatives Panel.
Panel members operate as Associates, being able to choose if and when they take on cases, which Napo seek to allocate as and when they arise. Most of the panel are from a Napo background, including a mix of current and past local and/or national officers, whilst some have a wider local government or public sector background. Their combined years of representing experience runs into centuries.
The Panel are networked into each other and often share advice around cases. Three times a year the Panel meet at Napo HQ to review legal and bargaining developments, and to share experience and learning from cases. They can also be hired to support Napo training and have helped draft member and Rep guidance.
Napo AGS Dean Rogers explains: “Our National Reps are invaluable to Napo, providing outstanding value. In May, we commissioned our 400th case since 2013. They deal with our most challenging cases. Sometimes the background is very difficult and at other times incredible, with many “You couldn’t make it up” moments. A high number of that 400 would have lost their job without this Representation. In some cases where people did leave employment, including sickness cases, Nat Reps helped prepare challenges at the root of some of our biggest compensation awards over this period. These can be some of the most rewarding cases and we know from feedback that members really value the dedicated and professional support, advice and advocacy they get from our Nat Reps.”
Being a national rep is a privilege and a pleasure. It can also be very stressful. Members are facing the loss of their livelihoods. They may not know where their next meal is coming from. The rep’s job is a huge responsibility. Most cases we win, or at least don’t lose, because we work very hard and are pretty good at what we do. Sometimes, however, we lose. That is very unpleasant. Jeremy Cameron, National Rep
When a member thanks me as a National Rep for being with them during a formal process, I always say ‘That’s what we’re here for ‘ : it’s what we’re about, it’s what Napo’s about- supporting staff when they need us. Anne King, National Rep
Since 2018, Napo have had a partnership arrangement with the Association of Educational Psychologists (AEP) who approached Napo to utilise our Panel for their difficult cases. This has been a great success. It brings in a small income stream for Napo via a case administration fee but most importantly, Napo and AEP now share wider practice and exchange ideas about how we can approach other issues more effectively. All specialist unions also have a tendency to think they are in unique positions but the partnership with the AEP has highlighted that as different groups of public sector professionals we have more in common than not – albeit the AEP are often shocked by some probation employer practices and problems across our scarred post-TR landscape.
‘Being a National Rep and representing members in both the CRC and NPS over the past few years since TR has provided a number of challenges and is sometimes very frustrating. However, at times it is also very fulfilling when we achieve positive results and manage to right wrongs for members who are usually feeling very isolated and fearful for their careers. Our support as Reps is provided by the national executive team, local reps and our own colleagues on the National Reps Panel who have a fantastic range of experience. Fortunately we are based across the country and the model we work to allows great flexibility in representing members best interests. Long may it last!’ Les KING National Rep.
Panel members are recruited periodically via a rigorous application and interview process to make sure they have the necessary knowledge, experience and aptitude needed to support members in complex and emotional cases – although it isn’t a competitive interview process. If the interviewer’s think you can do the job you are invited to join the Panel.
We are currently about to run a selection drive so if you are an experienced local Representative who thinks you’d have the time to support members on a paid basis in these kind of cases please consider applying. If you want more details and information about the roles you can contact Dean Rogers (email@example.com) or Cynthia Griffith (firstname.lastname@example.org) at Napo HQ.