Information for all members in Pensions Directorate.
Assumed consent is not suspended
PCS negotiators met with Pension Directorate management on 21 December to discuss concerns from members over the backlog of work and concerns over the differing messages that had gone out from Pension centres regards Assumed Consent, in particular concerning the last day before the Christmas closure (Friday 22 December).
A number of sites reported that local managers were intimating they had the authority to suspend the use off assumed consent, that managers could suspend the flexible working hours agreement and that the backlog of work in certain business units was an “exceptional circumstance”, which meant that assumed consent could be refused on that basis.
During the meeting PCS was given assurances by Pension directorate management, that assumed consent has not and will not be withdrawn over the Christmas period. They confirmed that local management cannot override departmental policy and that members can use assumed consent to flex off at the non fixed end of the day.
Backlog of work
PCS has continued to highlight the issues around the backlog of work and the pressure on our members. Senior Management have responded to this by making clear that they are not chasing PCA stats or targets but want the focus to be on delivering services to the public. There has been some work to reduce the number of outstanding PC claims with assistance from CFCD taking on Pensions GMS work to release PD staff to deal with urgent work. This has only gone some way to dealing with the urgent payment issues.
As it is expected to be busy management can put out positive messages that it would be helpful if staff work their full days or build up flexi rather than take shorter days to help ensure that the urgent work is done to get money that is due out to the public. Members on teams can work together to deliver services whilst ensuring that individuals can still access flexible working. Members have committed to fix one end of the day but have flexibility at the other end and can build up flexi or use assumed consent. Management should be focussing all the resources and staffing to the essential work that has to be covered over the festive period - to pay benefit that is due, deal with new claims and provide support to those who have been bereaved. Other work can wait until after the peak leave period.
PCS emphasised that positive messages to our members recognising all the hard work that is being done and appreciating the efforts is the best way to manage staff during this busy period. Any harsh messages being delivered which talk about removing our members’ rights should be raised with local PCS reps straightaway. Anything that cannot be resolved locally can be escalated to national negotiators as necessary.
Senior managers have also agreed to meet up with PCS negotiators in the New Year to discuss the on-going issues members in the Pensions Directorate have raised.