PCS met with Pensions Directorate (PD) management to discuss their proposals for leave over the festive period, but did not agree the levels set. We have called for further flexibility to be given to allow additional leave on the days with the most demand.
PD management advised that they intended to increase the percentages of staff permitted leave over the weeks commencing 18 and 25 December compared to last year but that the first week in January would be considered as a normal week.
PCS have called for additional flexibility to be given to members particularly on the one day in two of the weeks with the highest leave demands, 22 December and 2 January. Over both of these weeks the requests for leave are well within the percentages set when looked at on a weekly basis.
PD management agreed with PCS that they would look to maximise the pool of staff who can help cover the Bereavement line. This is the busiest line over the festive period and members who work on this line should not be penalised with less access to leave. There is the opportunity for sites to train staff and refresh the knowledge of staff who have bereavement experience in advance of the festive period to help cover the work.
PD management have agreed to revisit the levels with a view to increasing the levels required on the days with the highest demand, once the sites have looked at the leave requests again and when more accurate forecasts have been done about the likely customer demand over the festive period. PCS will continue to press to maximise the amount of leave that is allowed.
PD management have set the levels at:
Week commencing 18 December up to 40% of staff allowed off
Week commencing 25 December up to 50% of staff allowed off (except in Bereavement where it is up to 45%)
Week commencing 1 January up to 25% of staff who are due to be in work allowed off – this means that staff on maternity leave, part-year working patterns and part-time non-working days etc should not be counted in the 25%.
PCS negotiators clearly raised with management that we are disappointed that PD management are treating the New Year week as a normal week as the vast majority of PD sites are in areas with school holidays that week.
There are variations between sites in the virtual network over which days have the highest demand and some sites were under the above percentages. However PD management would not look at the requests for leave across the network to maximise the opportunity for those who have requested leave to get it. The leave requests will instead be managed at a site level. This will open up a second opportunity in some sites for members who have not requested the peak days whilst other members who have already requested these days in other sites will be turned down. This is very unsatisfactory and does not use the virtual network and regional and site variations to the advantage of our members.
PCS was clear that all requests from members should be looked at on their merits and there should be no instances of decisions being made by “Names in a hat”.
Part-time staff should apply for the time they want the same as full-time staff and that all decisions should then be made on the merits of the individual circumstances of the case. Any members who have had their requests unreasonably refused should speak to their local rep.
Branches should escalate any unresolved issues.