Starting on Monday, 15th October, Napo will be balloting our NPS members on a new probation pay system. Although Treasury rules dictate that this offer only applies directly to NPS staff – and therefore only NPS staff can be vote on the offer – Napo thinks its implementation would have a huge and almost immediate impact on CRCs.
There is a recruitment and retention crisis across probation as a result of the failed TR revolution. The NPS is running huge recruitment drives across PSO, PO and SPO grades, having horribly under-estimated staffing requirements. Meanwhile, CRCs are also desperately seeking experienced staff following critical Inspection Reports, after initially cutting staff to save money after the MoJ had over-estimated how much income they’d get from the original TR contracts. This means there is competition for staff at local and national level. However, until now this competition has been reasonably constrained by a number of factors, including:
Implementing this award will loosens these constraints considerably.
The biggest constraint has been staff on both sides of the local divide still being paid roughly the same pay. Put simply, there has been no financial incentive to jump from NPS to CRCs. If CRCs don’t at least match higher band maxima and faster pay progression then they’ll lose staff to the NPS.
Movement has also been constrained by NPS ‘rules’ generally not allowing staff to start above their band minima, regardless of the member’s pay in the CRC. With faster progression being supported in the new NPS system, staff could be tempted to take a short term hit if, within a year or two, they would progress to more than they’re currently paid and then some.
The Government’s consultation on the future structure of the probation service recommended a new unified set of professional standards covering all offender managers. This has arisen as a result of criticism from Probation Inspections and the Justice Select Committee. This pay offer re-enforces this direction of travel by tying pay progression to professional competencies – these will be developed with unions between now and 2020.
If CRCs will be held to these same standards in any version of the current or future CRC contracts. Any CRC trying to avoid this will be telling their own staff they are 2nd class professionals. Napo’s believe is that some CRCs at least are committed to better than this.
CRCs certainly can’t expect to keep staff if the NPS improves its game on training and support, as is inevitable if the CBPPF is to work. Nor can CRCs justify fast-track promotions for PSOs willing to take on some duties usually reserved qualified POs without being able to demonstrate these staff have the skills and competencies set out in the CBPPF and the aligned professional standards will bring. Try it and the wrath of inspectors will come crashing down on CRCs as soon as anything goes wrong.
Avoiding these pitfalls requires additional CRC investment in pay as well as better training, development, appraisal frameworks being developed in partnership with unions. If they ignore this reality they will lose the new competition for staff. If MoJ ignore this reality, they’ll condemn the CRCs to continued operational failures.
Napo’s national pay claims were very specific about expecting the outcome of any NPS deal to be factored into contractual re-negotiations with the CRCs. Given that the NPS pay reform could come in the middle of the on-going contract re-negotiations, aimed at sustaining current contracts to at least 2020 there can be no excuse for Government and CRCs not addressing Pay Unity immediately as part of their on-going negotiations.
Some CRCs are in on-going pay negotiations with local probation trade unions about pay awards. Now the ballot period is open in the NPS, we will be fully briefing CRC owners on the NPS deal and insisting that they match the NPS offer. This will include offering to support efforts to lobby Government for the resources to do so whilst recognising this needs to be done in a reasonable timeframe. As contract renegotiations are on-going there is no excuse for not asking for the money now.
We will also be looking to involve members in this lobbying. As Napo take this campaign to Ministers, the Justice Select Committee, MPs, CRC Boards and shareholders, etc we will also be supporting all members in lobbying their MPs demanding Pay Unity across probation.