Independent Panel Referral Form for disagreements not resolved by Appeal Manager
FWHA and how to manage working patterns
The DWP Flexible Working Hours Agreement (FWHA) is intended to be the primary means of managing hours and working patterns between colleagues from day to day (FWHA Policy 1). FWHA Procedure 2 lists Mandatory Principles, including Principle 2 (a), which states:
Employees and managers will engage constructively with the arrangements for managing regular working pattern plans in the How to: Manage working patterns guide. These are the collective arrangements for ensuring that, when added together at team level, and taking into account the associated safeguards, employees’ individual working patterns provide the number of employees needed by the business to maintain a consistently good service, especially at key times such as 08:00, 09:00, 17:00 and later.
FWHA Mandatory Principle 2 expects compliance with the How to Manage working patterns guide, which includes, at paragraph 8 of the guide, requirements for all working pattern planning: Employees may voluntarily undertake to work more than the following but managers must not:
(a) fix both the start and the end of the same day;
(b) fix more than one in five consecutive working days beyond 17:00;
(c) fix more than one Saturday in four consecutive Saturdays;
(d) fix, before October 2017, evening work beyond 18:30, other than where it already occurs;
(e) fix Saturday work before October 2017, other than where it already occurs;
(f) fix a working pattern of more than five days per calendar week
Those employees who have opted-out of the Employee Deal retain their original/legacy contractual working hours together with the assurance and instruction, under Working Hours & Working Patterns Advice Q12, that any contractual flexibility clause will not be used to change the employee’s working pattern, to any hours outside of the operating hours in the employee’s legacy/original contract, up to at least 1st July 2020. However, the management of legacy contracts should, within the terms of such contracts, be consistent with the terms of the How to: Manage working patterns guide, including paragraph 8, so that there is no less favourable treatment. Managers must adhere to the limits placed on the use of their authority under How to: Manage working patterns guide paragraph 8 and Advice Q12. PCS Briefing DWP/MB/033/18 provides updates on limited extensions to DWP operating hours.
Grievances and Appeals
Working Pattern decisions must be consistent with the terms of the Collective Agreement which supports a process for colleagues committing to a working pattern plan based on individual preferences. There may have been instances where a working pattern plan did not fully reflect a preference or were not agreed. This could have resulted in an individual having concerns over certain aspects of that working pattern plan based on their personal circumstances or contract type. PCS Briefing DWP/MB/055/17 provides guidance in support of key assurances under the Collective Agreement including:
13(i) Whether or not colleagues are covered by the Equality Act 2010, for various reasons some may not be in a position to work certain hours or days. In these cases, managers must work constructively with colleagues to find alternative arrangements which enable the individual to combine meeting their personal or caring responsibilities with making a contribution to the team requirements. Such alternatives will be reviewed every six months.
Individuals should in the first instance have discussed plans with their team colleagues and then raised their concerns with their line manager. If this discussion did not resolve the concern, individuals need to raise a grievance about the way they have been treated under DWP’s Grievance Procedure and Grievance Appeals Procedure.
Independent Panel escalation route
The Collective Agreement introduced an Independent Panel to review and redress, when appropriate, grievance outcomes which are regarded by the National Trade Union as perverse or fundamentally flawed. The Panel will consider disputed decisions regarding changes to working patterns, including part year contracts, linked with the implementation of the Employee Deal, such as decisions which:
- clearly contradict policy, procedures or guidance;
- are unlawful;
- disregard vital evidence; or
- grievance appeal decisions that were not thorough.
The Panel will also consider disputes about contracted hours linked with the implementation of the Employee Deal, including HMRC legacy contracts. PCS Briefing DWP/BB/030/18 includes the Independent Panel Policy Principles for considerting such contract disputes.
Following the outcome of the grievance and appeal process, where an individual can show the outcome is perverse or fundamentally flawed and wishes to take the case further, the case must be raised with a local PCS representative.
Role of PCS Representatives
All cases where there are grounds to show the decision is perverse or fundamentally flawed must be submitted to PCS DWP Group Office email address Leeds@pcs.org.uk using the standard Independent Panel Referral Form, provided below, together with the Grievance Case & Grievance Decision and Appeal Case & Appeal Decision. The final decision that the case does meet the criteria for consideration by the Independent Panel will be made by PCS DWP Group Office.