8 October 2021

HMCTS Digital Support Officer role update

As part of the MoJ pay deal a number of existing allowances and ways of remuneration for certain specialist grade jobs changed and interim arrangements have been put in place pending a series of reviews across all of these roles. 

These reviews will be subject to full negotiation with the trade unions and will include consultation with our members on any proposals.

Staff carrying out Digital Support Officer (DSO) roles in HMCTS were remunerated by way of Temporary Responsibility Allowance (TRA) payments of 5% of their annual salary and recruitment to these roles was purely on a voluntary basis. The DSO role was graded at Band E by the department and the TRA payments were based on staff carrying out additional duties at their substantive pay grade for a maximum of 25% of their working week.

PCS always maintained the use of TRA as a means of financial remuneration was not a suitable one. However the department felt that due to the need to get the DSO role rolled out nationally, there was no other suitable alternative available at the time.

Another sticking point for PCS was the desire to make DSO roles available to Band F staff. While PCS would never want to be in a position of denying our members development opportunities, as a trade union we could not accept the fact that Band F staff carrying out a DSO role would effectively be paid less than their colleagues because the role had been graded as Band E.

HMCTS consequently took the decision not to include Band F staff in the recruitment exercise for the DSO roles, although any staff that were already on TRA from Band F to Band E would be included in these opportunities and receive a 10% allowance for acting up and the 5% uplift for carrying out DSO duties. The DSO role should have been subject to review after it had been running for a year or so, however this review did not take place. This brings us to the current position regarding the DSO role.

As mentioned above a number of existing allowances will be subject to full review as part of the MoJ pay deal and interim positions in terms of payment have been implemented pending the full review process.

In respect of the DSO role these interim arrangements will see a flat rate payment of £500 per annum. This will result in substantial reductions to the amounts paid prior to the pay deal and the previous TRA payments.

The DSO role has been acknowledged as an import one, playing a vital support role throughout the ongoing pandemic, but it is not yet clear to PCS if members will want to continue in these voluntary roles given the changes to the way it is financially rewarded. However, there is clearly the potential for a considerable resourcing issue.

HMCTS requested a meeting PCS to discuss the DSO working model and resourcing, recruitment to these roles going forward and providing wider developmental opportunities. It is important to point out that these discussions did not form part of the above-mentioned review or the interim arrangements already in place.

While a number of potential proposals were discussed at this meeting, PCS have adopted a listen, provide a considered response and consult with members, position. However, there is a rather large elephant that remains in the room, regarding the changes to the terms of rewarding staff that carry out the DSO role.

PCS will provide further updates to members as discussions progress.