Napo has responded to NPS proposals linking improvements to maternity and family friendly policies to asking experienced staff to give up some annual leave, calling them unacceptable and discriminatory.
Napo has been pressing the NPS to improve the existing maternity leave for NPS staff since the split in 2014. This was amplified in 2015 when, shortly before the General Election, the Government launched improved paternity provisions and the right to shared maternity leave, saying they wanted to be standard bearers for better ways of working. These changes have never been introduced in the NPS, Napo being told they’d follow harmonisation onto NOMS terms.
The problem around maternity pay is made worse by several cases where embers were wrongly told how much maternity pay they could expect, SSCL quoting NOMS terms only to then retract these after the maternity leave had started. Napo AGS Dean Rogers explains: “The strongest argument for harmonisation of some terms and conditions is that the shared service model isn’t set up for or able to cope with different terms and conditions. Having different pensions schemes is complicated enough for them to cope with, especially as the split happened before they’d identified all of the differences and possible pitfalls. But maternity leave is especially difficult when they get it wrong.”
Napo therefore welcomed proposals to improve and harmonise maternity and family friendly policies presented in February – until it was made clear that they came as part of a package involving a proposed cut in leave for experienced staff. Currently NPS staff can get up to 33 days leave whilst the NOMS norm is 30 days.
Napo’s response to the ongoing consultation couldn’t be clearer: this link is seen as cynical and unacceptable. Napo is accusing the NPS of seeking to exploit the importance of maternity provision to a mostly female workforce by using it as a bargaining chip to reduce leave. This proposal comes when workloads are dangerously high. Napo have already asked for data around how much TOIL people are accruing (and not using) and how much leave is going untaken despite rising sickness absence levels since the split. To make matters worse, many of those impacted by the proposed leave cut were members who gave up leave to help fund the promised faster pay progression in the 2008 pay deal which never materialised. “The 2008 pay deal was miss-sold and the removal of leave then looks like a contractual mugging,” says Dean Rogers.
Mr Rogers explains: “The announcement about HMPPS means we’re entering another period of critical and profound change in probation. Our members are promised that rehabilitation and probation support is at the heart of the new plan and that it presents a great opportunity for the service. But members will inevitably be sceptical because TR is a failed changed programme from the same authors. They need clear signposts that back up the promises on things like maternity leave, pay and workload measurement. Cuts in leave point probation in an entirely different direction.”
Negotiations on the proposals will continue throughout March 2017.
In the meantime, Napo is asking member to join the #MaternityRightsMatter campaign on International Women’s Day. For more information on the campaign visit www.napo.org.uk/maternity-rights-matter