With the Budget days away obviously Spending Review 2019 is in the mind but with due understanding that final departmental funding and planned expenditure of that will not be determined until early 2019. We see the relentless onward march of BoF with all the implications of that and noting the recent intranet updates. Yes – we will have better accommodation but the impact on staff who cannot move reaches a crescendo and the “how” vision for compliance only now being worked up (we leave the phrases such as “upstream”, “compliance tools” and “designing out effort” to one side) the crunch between location, actual ability to deliver compliance and reality becomes sharply into focus. The EDH appears to have “left the building” and those of us who work closely in strategic risking still harbour real concerns about the future that have been flagged by the RCTU since before the formal announcement of BoF.
The other stark issue that appears in SR19 is “reform of contracts” – what exactly is being contemplated here? The “run all over the country” scenario for the same pay? An enhancement to ensure duty of care and proper reward for employee “flexibility”? A detriment to current terms to be “agreed” by an employee when moving to a new post? The permutations are significant in number and the past recent record does not auger confidence in fair outcomes for HMRC staff.
Needless to say, members are saying unanimously: “disgraceful”. For the past 10 years of pay freezes, settlements where there was no “freeze” were well below inflation and changes to pension contributions have left many staff in situations where they have suffered real pay cuts of 20% + or more. Of course, those lucky enough to have promotion have seen terms and conditions of employment reduced (i.e. sick pay and leave levels) all the while HMRC has boasted of record revenue for the UK.
This is a massively complex issue and the points that derive from the above – not exhaustive – list range from the lack of appreciation of the work undertaken by the hard working staff of HMRC through to a less than robust and subjective, rather than objective, Appointments System. We are painfully aware of a number of critical issues from our current system that exist and are causing impacts on a significant number of staff.
It is acknowledged that the senior leaders we currently have are making efforts, within a restrictive space, to try and enhance the pay of staff (and whatever one may think about “cheap” offers for a gym it does illustrate a degree of lateral thinking in the restrictive space) but overall there needs to be, as we have long advocated, a complete holistic overview taken of interlocking systems and concerns before truly lateral thinking can be applied to improve the situation. This does not negate the fact the proper appreciation of the value of HMRC staff needs political understanding by HMG to address the core issue of pay settlements.
The review into bullying, harassment and misconduct in the Civil Service
We hope you have all had the chance to read this important report from the review that was commissioned by the Cabinet Secretary. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/bullying-harassment-and-misconduct-review
What is abundantly clear is most staff will have experienced bullying, harassment, victimisation and the misconduct associated with that – or misconduct of any sort by others – in their career directly or indirectly.
Our issue is how this is reported and dealt with. Currently in HMRC we have, regrettably, noted concerns over the treatment of staff who have suffered such abuse and how that is investigated. Whether the investigation is conducted within a member’s management command or by specialist investigators we, who have decades of experience in these fields, feel that things are not as good as they should be. We have long said that serious reform is required and unfortunately that remains the case.
It is evident that we are not training investigators to the level we need nor is their independence being fully acknowledged to them. Staff are not confident that evidence is considered to the correct level of the “balance of probability” or that the perception of the individual is taken into account correctly as per ACAS guidance. There are numerous examples we have witnessed representing members where reform is urgently needed. The question is: will HMRC reform? The review is done, the statements made (“we will improve”) – where is the practical evidence? We will continue to monitor the situation.
It is that time again! Complete is our advice. Tell them how you feel.
Your committee is looking into a number of initiatives to improve the ability of the RCTU to have an impact on the main issues that have a direct bearing on your employment and we will be advising members of the outcomes from the deliberations very soon. Suffice to say at this time – we believe we have exciting news for members in the very near future.