Plans to cut holidays, lengthen working weeks and reduce flexible working for public employees are some of the revelations to come from the detailed plans that have been disclosed.
The documents also reveal aspects of working life that are likely to change, including employees’ annual leave, occasional days leave, sick pay, hours of work, the ability of employees to move from one job to another and probationary periods.
A Cabinet Office spokesperson said:
“Because we want to attract the best staff, we will remain an employer with good terms and conditions, as we have always been. However, while there has been significant recent change in pay and pensions, there are other terms and conditions that have not been updated and are now outliers compared to best practice. We will address this and ensure a modern employment offer is available to all.”
The Government’s planned reforms are set to be implemented quickly, with directors in every Whitehall department expected to have examined the terms and conditions of their workforce and outlined their plans to make their jobs more like those in the private sector by the end of the year.
It is suggested that the aim is to deliver all reforms over two years, starting in April 2013, with the initial review process being split into three phases to be completed by the end of this year.
The three phases are as follows – An assessment of terms and conditions to be submitted by 19 October; a draft implementation of changes and a plan with key dates to be submitted by 16 November; and an implementation strategy and plan to be submitted by 31 December.
Plans to rush through major changes would be “a sickening blow” for many public sector workers according to the General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union, Mark Serwotka.
“Amid an imposed pay freeze, and cuts to pensions and redundancy terms, the Cabinet Office now wants to undermine some very basic working conditions that any decent employer should offer.”
The letter which was sent two weeks ago by the Director of the Civil Service Human Resources and Capability Group, William Hague, was delivered to every human resources director across the civil service outlining the plans.
The leaked documents state:
“The civil service reform plan states that each department will undertake a review of their terms and conditions. Your review should ensure that your department, and collectively the civil service, continues to be a good employer, offering terms and conditions comparable with, but not beyond what a good modern employer would provide.
“This is our opportunity to tackle those terms and conditions where we have been less responsive in the past as well as those that have left the civil service open to caricature.”
As well as the areas mentioned that will come under scrutiny, further areas which could face cuts are outlined in the document as “other areas for consideration.”
A number of family-friendly policies such as childcare, compressed hours working, working from home, parental leave, part-time working, job sharing and term-time working are all areas categorised in this bracket.
In addition, a list of other policies that could be reviewed at the discretion of human resources directors include: gifts and hospitality, apprenticeships, work experience, advances of pay, excess hours, travelling time, weekend working, reward vouchers for good work and advances in money to pay for travel expenditure and subsistence payments.
The document then goes on to advise directors to consider other possible ways of saving, by stating:
“These lists are not definitive, and departments should include any terms and conditions, policies and practices or pay-related terms deemed relevant.”