The latest wave of HR processing problems in the NPS prove how the organisation, and its staff, continue to be vulnerable to unnecessary stress and anxiety -ultimately undermining staff confidence, morale and performance. Fortunately, members of Napo can come to us for help and support.
Some of the problems are rooted in the SSCL computer system. E.g. An ACO was recently told the computer no longer had the capacity to honour different NPS and MoJ sickpay formula, suggesting the computer is dictating policy.
SSCL’s record keeping and capacity to explain itself is also clearly a problem – as evidence in historic alleged “over-payments” where the amount owed varied each time SSCL explain it.
In the hardest cases, such as where someone on long-term sick relating to stress and anxiety was sent an overpayment demand while they were receiving no income, the problem rests with both SSCL and the MoJ and their removal of the human from HR.
Fortunately, where those impacted are Napo members we are challenging both NPS/MoJ and SSCL. Napo AGS Dean Rogers, explains: “We are helping members in numerous ways, from directly raising cases with NPS senior leaders to cancel or reduce demands; to unblocking barriers when the right forms and processes haven’t reached line managers or members. We secured additional NPS resource to tackle chronic problems around pension administration and ill-health retirement applications, but these are swamped with cases again. We’re now supporting line managers wanting to exercise discretions but discouraged by HRBPs towing a rigid Party line.”
In May, Napo won an ET test case, overturning the NPS interpretation of notice pay for staff on reduced pay. Dean says: “Rather than continue managing a different set of terms for NPS staff, they tried to ignore the difference and force a detriment on their most vulnerable staff. Treating people who were on zero pay in part because it had taken so long to process IHR applications should have been unconscionable but this is the faceless, heartless face of the State. Napo were never going to let that go unchallenged.”
The nature of the on-going HR failures is more worrying given government plans to transfer all of offender management into the NPS. With the huge variation of terms and conditions that would be transferring and the utter lack of confidence in HR systems it is difficult to comprehend how this could be a success.
Dean explains: “A shared service centre by definition needs things to either be the same or to accept and build around understood differences. Everything around TR was a dogmatic rush. The MoJ never understood or accepted the differences between probation and prison terms.”
Napo are calling on those now leading for the MoJ to be both honest and brave. This is a huge opportunity to admit the failings and signpost a change. There are at least 17 different sets of pay and pension arrangements due to transfer into the NPS. There’s no chance of SSCL coping with that. By admitting this now and planning to free the NPS from this chaos would be a huge signpost that lessons have been learned and staff will be at the heart of the next probation model.
In the meantime, anyone in scope for transferring should secure their Napo membership as they’ll probably need it more than ever.