Politicians briefed on NPS Shared Services Failings

Leading judge warns of ‘imminent crisis’
14/02/2018
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14/02/2018

Politicians briefed on NPS Shared Services Failings

Napo brought members’ many, serious, concerns about problems with the NPS’s flawed Shared Services setup to the attention of politicians last month. In January the union reported to the Justice Unions and Family Courts Parliamentary Group on the many HR and payroll problems created by the new single operating system (SOP) introduced supposedly to address the problems with the SSCL.

The union told MPs that the many problems with the shared service system related to two main factors:

  • The system does not adequately and safely account for the different terms and conditions of NPS staff, built into the system by the National Staff Transfer Agreement and TUPE protections.
  • There are articular structural flaws linked to two competing pension schemes which undermine the core ‘basic assumptions’ that the shared service model rely upon.

Staff and the unions were promised that SOP would address all of the weaknesses up to this point. The tragic reality however is that it has instead increased the problems and amplified the depth and danger of the key structural and systematic flaw.

Napo supplied the Group with many examples of particular problems, including:

  • Hundreds of incorrect payment of wages
  • Several hundred new employees going several months without being paid at all
  • Continuing failure to include holiday pay in wage and pension calculations for sessional staff
  • Non-payment of pro-rata pay awards to staff who left the service mid-year, leading to pension and tax readjustments
  • Pay and tax errors being repeated and increased by automatic adjustments being made by the SSCL computer which were not correct

SSCL has also failed to collect pension contributions from any staff who have ‘atypical’ or changes to their monthly pay since the introduction of SOP. There are regular miscalculations of length of service. These failures mean the pension provider cannot issue annual pension statements with any confidence and staff approaching retirement are also not being issued with estimates or quotes until after their leave date.

There are also concerns about potential failure to auto-enroll recent new starters in the LGPS.

In addition there have been large scale problems with contracts:

  • Staff working alongside Prison service employees are being issued NOMS contracts containing the wrong terms and conditions.
  • There are failures to apply statutory shared parental leave provisions until May 2017
  • The wrong maternity leave being paid to NPS staff until harmonisation of terms in May 2017. Subsequently, no pension contributions have been taken from those on maternity leave.
  • Staff re-entering probation after a break in service have been told ‘they don’t exist’ and refused contracts by the SSCL computer due to a loss of their previous records.

In addition assisted technology users have had a nightmare as the processes were not matched and occupational health recommendations are routinely unmet.

Parliamentarians In Group were told that in early 2017 Napo wrote to the Minister about the concerns only for him to write back saying that the SOP system had sorted the problems out – clearly he had been misinformed.

Napo has argued that it is impossible to see how the problem can be rectified until the NPS is withdrawn from the SSCL process. This could easily be achieved by deeming the NPS to be a Next-Steps Agency (the same status afforded Cafcass by the MoJ – largely because it too is aligned to the LGPS). However, politicians within the MoJ are resistant to this as it would embarrass them by exposing the nudity of the HMPPS.

The alternative escape would be terminating the SSCL contract. However, Napo’s understanding is that SSCL is partly owned by the Cabinet Office and so the economic and political stakes seem to make this unlikely.

Read the full briefing here www.napo.org.uk/sscl-update-jan-2018

 

 

 

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