PCS is facing problems nationally this year about festive leave across the Operational Directorates (with the exception of Disability Services and Decision Making Directorate - DSDMD).
We have sought to engage with every directorate at an early stage but it has proved to be impossible to obtain relevant data, including relevant work demand for the festive period.
We therefore asked for a meeting with senior DWP officials in order to seek resolution around the challenges we have faced around consultation. That meeting took place yesterday where we were able to present our concerns, including failure by the employer to provide relevant data around work demand and clean data gather. We also highlighted the fact that there appeared to be a drive to include non-working days in the percentage figures used to establish the number of people allowed off at any one time over the festive period.
We also raised the issue around percentages being allowed across jobcentres, which are traditionally run on a skeleton staff over the festive period. It seems clear to PCS that a central steer has been issued that local flexibilities should not be applied and discretion was not to be encouraged – part of the process that has been used in DSDMD and proved successful in being able to allow PCS to reach agreement with the employer in that Directorate. Management have now issued further clarification on handling festive leave for our members in Jobcentres with consultation in districts with the local PCS trade union side about the leave requests and what staffing is needed to deal with urgent work over the festive period. This should help deal with any problems members are having in Jobcentres.
The employer has now agreed to take away our concerns for consideration and has agreed to come back to PCS in the early part of next week, hopefully with some solutions which will seek to address the concerns highlighted above. This means that there will be a slight delay to formal staff announcements across the Directorates around leave requests. This delay is unfortunate, but if it means that more leave requests will be granted then we will have achieved a positive outcome.
Managers locally should not be seeking to impose any local negative decisions until wte have me again with management next week.