PCS has met with managerment in the Disability Services and Decision Making Directorate to discuss leave over Christmas and the new year.
Because of the school holidays and the way that the bank holidays fall, the vast majority of members’ leave applications are also concentrated in the same two weeks over Christmas and the new year period. PCS argued that leave should be maxImised in these two weeks. The leave applications are within normal levels for the week before Christmas and this week can be used as a final push to clear any issues on claims which could prevent payments being issued and cut down on the urgent issues that need to be dealt with over the two peak weeks for leave.
Senior Managers have recognised this and have agreed to allow all the leave that has been requested. There is just one exception which is for IIDB HEO staffing levels over the festive period which are still being looked at.
The priority for work over the two bank holiday weeks will be on making sure that claimants are paid and that new claims are taken, as well as any associated decisions which could potentially hold up payments on change of circs or new claims. Staffing will be focused on these key areas and dealing with calls so that the public can get hold of us to let us know about any urgent issues that need to be dealt with over the festive period.
The phone lines will be closing early at 5pm on both Christmas Eve and New Year's Eve to allow members the chance to deal with issues and still be able to get home with more limited public transport services.
How this has been worked out
PCS has welcomed the way this has been considered in this directorate. The leave application levels have been looked at on a national basis for each of the business areas within this directorate – i.e. across PIP, Access to Work, DLA, Admin exercises, IIDB etc. This means that all those members who are due to be in work over the festive period have the same opportunity to get leave despite the staffing levels varying across sites and variations between sites with different levels of part-time and part-year workers. Management have focused on what staffing levels they think they need in to deal with the work over the festive period, rather than focussing on an abstract percentage figure. Policies like the Flexible Working Hours Agreement remain in place over the festive period. As management have optimised the leave levels as much as possible over the two bank holiday weeks, then they would want teams to work together as far as possible given minimum staffing levels, to ensure urgent work can be done.
If there have been any issues with the process or how the applications for leave have been done in sites in this directorate then let your local reps know urgently. They can escalate any issues that cannot be resolved locally to GEC negotiators.
Other parts of Operations
PCS negotiators remain concerned that despite agreeing a very straightforward process last year, PCS has not received the data from all parts of operations. In order to have meaningful talks we need details about the festive leave that has been requested, the forecast for how many staff that management think they need in work to deal with the work and the data about how this worked last year. As soon as talks take place then further members briefings will be issued about the situation in each directorate. We struggle to understand why this process proves so difficult in some areas for something that takes place every year.