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PATHFINDER PROPOSALS
10/01/2002

Below is a copy of the proposals put to management by PCS. Management response is expected to be discussed by the Joint GEC on 10/01 which will indicate the way forward.

AGREEMENT BETWEEN THE DEPARTMENT FOR WORK AND PENSIONS (DWP) AND THE PUBLIC AND COMMERCIAL SERVICES UNION (PCS) ON THE SETTING UP OF JOBCENTRE PLUS
PATHFINDERS AND THE ROLL OUT OF JOBCENTRE PLUS

Introduction

Both parties recognise the substantial investment Government is planning to
make in modernising the services provided to benefit claimants in the UK.
This investment will include revision of the help and benefits provided to
claimants, investment in modernising the Information Technology underpinning
the provision of these services and investment in modernising offices that
deliver these services.

In order to facilitate the creation of this new service Employment Service
and those aspects of the Benefit Agency dealing with claimants of working age
will be re-badged and known as Jobcentre Plus.

It is recognised that if these changes are to be delivered successfully, they
will involve significant upheaval for the staff of the existing agencies.

The DWP is committed to being an exemplar employer, to treating its staff
well and operating to the highest possible standards in all it does. To this
end the Department will use the TUPE plus arrangements as the starting point
for all its arrangements and will build upon those arrangements in agreement
with PCS to deal with the changes brought about by the creation of Jobcentre
Plus.

Interim Industrial Relations Arrangements

The Department recognises the importance of good industrial relations in
developing Jobcentre Plus and making the best use of the investment being
provided by Government.

Discussions between the Department and PCS will, in due course; result in
Department wide industrial relations arrangements.

In the interim it is agreed to operate to the best standards of industrial]
relations that exist in the previous agencies. To that end the arrangement
laid out in Annex 1 will apply with immediate effect to Jobcentre Plus and
will remain in force until Department wide arrangements are agreed. In
addition facility time arrangements for PCS representatives in Jobcentre Plus
will be based on those applied in the Benefits Agency to complement the
arrangements at Annex 1.

Jobcentre Plus Offices

Both DWP and PCS recognise the primary importance of staff being able to
work in a safe and secure environment if the best value is to be secured from
the Government's investment in the new arrangements. The following paragraphs
lay out the arrangements that will apply in all Job Centre Plus offices.

Each Jobcentre Plus office will have a screened area for handling
transactions that cannot be delivered safely in an unscreened environment.
The transactions referred to are detailed in Annex 2 to this agreement.
These areas will have discrete entry and exit points and will where possible
be situated on a different floor of the Jobcentre Plus office. These
additional screened areas will be retrofitted to existing Pathfinder offices
as quickly as possible and in all cases by the end or the financial year
2001-02. .

Both sides recognise the problems associated in moving people from unscreened
to screened areas and it is therefore agreed that these issues will be dealt
with by adopting the customer handling procedures outlined in Annex 3 of this
document.

It is agreed that a screened reception will be provided in those Jobcentre
Plus offices that will be dealing with Benefit enquiries.

It is agreed that individual members of staff will have the absolute right
not to see a customer in an unscreened area where he or she has good reason
to believe that this could compromise their safety. Where the discretion
proves to be needed on a regular basis a further risk assessment will be
undertaken to identify any more permanent measures, which may be necessary.

It is agreed that the Generic Risk Assessment for Pathfinders for the full
roll out is a living document which will be developed to reflect changes to
design and delivery methods and the experience of actual running.

In the case of the Pathfinders the Generic Risk Assessment will reflect the
arrangements laid out in Annex 2 of the agreement about the handling of work
to be undertaken behind security screens. It will also deal with the
availability and specification for security guards and with the arrangements
for risk assessing each pathfinder cluster as a unit.

The revised Generic Risk Assessment, which will be undertaken in partnership
with PCS and form the basis of a joint briefing for risk assessors who will
then undertake specific site risk assessment following the conclusion of the
current industrial action. The same arrangements will apply to risk
assessing future offices in the course of Jobcentre Plus.

It is agreed that the arrangements for identifying and handling potentially
violent customers will be those currently existing in the BA and ES and will
ensure that all benefit related work for these customers will take place in a
screened environment.

It is agreed to increase the previously proposed level of security offered by
security guards through the provision of an enhanced service at all offices.
Revised instructions, which will be subject of discussion with PCS, will
spell out their role and how they interface with Jobcentre Plus staff. In
particular these instructions will clarify how they will intervene in any
incidents within the office. This enhanced service will be in place in all
pathfinder offices by the date specified and in all roll out offices at the
point at which they open for business as Jobcentre Plus offices.

It is agreed that management will aim to fill all new Jobcentre Plus posts
which require face-to-face contact with the public on a voluntary basis.
Discussions will take place between management and PCS about the voluntary
staffing of these posts within the context of discussions about HR manpower
planning for DWP as a whole. In the event of failing to secure sufficient
volunteers to fill these posts there will be further discussions with PCS to
determine how best any vacant posts should be filled.

It is agreed that there will be a review of the Jobcentre Plus pathfinders as
part of the process of assessing their actual operation. A review of the
Health and Safety arrangements will be an important strand of that review.

Management and PCS will agree arrangements for the fullest possible
involvement of PCS as partners in each of the reviews but particularly the
review of Health and Safety arrangements including agreements to its terms of
reference and its timetable. All reviews will be fully evaluated and
discussed with PCS and the unions comments will be fully taken into account
by ministers in their consideration of the review outcomes.

Health and Safety Arrangements in Jobcentre Plus

It is agreed that Jobcentre Plus should aspire to the highest possible
standards of health and safety for its staff.

Management and PCS agree to work together on this issue and to fully share
all available information to help build a safe environment

A Director of Safety will be appointed to the board of Jobcentre Plus and
will have legal and corporate responsibility for the safe delivery of all
Jobcentre Plus functions. The Director will work closely with PCS in
developing the safety regime and in monitoring its ongoing effectiveness.

A joint Health and Safety Committee will be set up involving management and
union reps and will be chaired by the Director of Safety.

At regional level management will recognise PCS Health and Safety Committees
which will be consulted on all safety matters. A nominated union safety
representative in each region will also have powers to visit any location
within the region to check that the terms of existing risk assessments are
being met and will have direct access to the regional health and safety
manager to ensure any shortfall found on any site is immediately rectified.

Dispute Resolution

In the event that any problem in respects of matters covered in this
agreement cannot be resolved at local or, if appropriate, regional level
after full negotiation has taken place the matter will be referred to
Departmental management/PCS group level for urgent resolution.