Our Napo campaign against stress at work continues at both local and national level. Napo court member staff in Liverpool recently completed a risk assessment for managers to address health and well-being issues; while Napo CRC reps in West Yorkshire used the local responses from the Napo stress survey to show that staff morale was low and that the TR additional workload pressures were putting members under increasing stress, and that therefore the CRC should withdraw their intention to name officers who had ‘passed’ or ‘failed’ a range of individual case performance targets.
On behalf of Napo I recently responded to the NOMS consultation on the NPS Exemplar Regional Stress Action Plan, I asked them to include the following specific issues.
Stressors. I asked NOMS to extend the range they had given to include the following important issues; repetitive work, lack of job satisfaction, pay stagnation, no cover for absences, job insecurity, doing more with less, part time/job share staff being expected to do more that their hours, feeling undervalued, presenteeism caused by staff who scared of the repercussions of going sick, ongoing problems with shared services, the high risk nature of all case work, skipping computer and refreshment breaks and working late.
IT. I asked that the section on IT skills be more reflective of the scale of the problem. To support this I explained that Napo’s recent stress surveys have shown that problems with IT systems are a significant contributory factor to workplace stress, and quoted from a NPS PO member who wrote of having ‘Feelings of rage and anger because of the baffling and confusing IT systems being unfit for purpose. Numbness and tingling in my arms and shoulders due to major increase in IT use and clumsiness of the systems’. I added that a section should be added to the exemplar to reflect the problems that AT users are having because equipment is not compatible with new systems.
Personal factors. I explained that this should be gender sensitive. Probation work is ‘emotional work’ and the stress related problems this type of work may cause can be more problematic for women, as it is more likely that care responsibilities in the home fall to women, so their probation work related ‘emotional work’ and associated stress factors are compounded by the care related ‘emotional’ unpaid work they do in the home.
Support Managers. Napo’s stress survey results show that SPOs have felt particularly stressed recently partly due to additional tasks they have been allocated since TR (for example around HR and health and safety) which they are now expected do with little if any training on these issues and no extra money. SPOs are being squeezed between the demands of senior management and the problems of the staff they are responsible for.
Many of our amendments outlined above were accepted by NOMS in their amended stress exemplar.
NPS has finally agreed to give us their sickness stats – only they have told us that we are not allowed to share the stats with anyone! The wrangle to get these stats (that we are entitled to see under safety legislation) has been going now for nearly a year. We can only assume that their procrastination is due to sickness levels having skyrocketed since TR, and NOMS don’t want us to have official confirmation of this that we could use to highlight the damage TR has done.
We will of course challenge their intention to not let us share this information.