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FTA Selection Exercise for Permanent AO Contracts 13/03/2012

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.

Management are about to embark on an exercise to select the FTA AO/Band B staff to whom they will make offers of permanent contracts. Although management have finally acknowledged that they need to take on additional permanent AO staff, they maintain that they do not need to take on permanent AO staff in every location.

As a result they are not going to replicate what was done at FTA EO/Band C level and will not be making an offer of a permanent contract to every FTA AO/Band B. Instead they intend to run selection exercises to decide which AO/Band B’s are to be offered a permanent contract.

This will not be a single national exercise. Instead Group management (or ‘OSN’s’ as they are now called) will decide

  • the number of FTA posts to be converted to permanency
  • where they will run selection exercises in their Group/OSN
  • how many selection exercises they will run in their Group/OSN
  • what geographical area is covered by each selection exercise
  • Which offices and staff are covered by which exercise
  • Where the permanent AO vacancies are located

Unlike previous exercises for selecting FTA’s for offers of contract extensions, managers in this exercise will not be allowed to restrict the selection pool to a single office and thereby exclude other FTA AO’s in neighbouring offices from being considered for selection. Instead the selection exercises should be open to every FTA AO in the defined geographical area (vicinity) that is decided upon by the Group/OSN managers.

Consultation with TUS at Group/OSN level

Management have assured PCS nationally that Group/OSN managers will consult with their Group TUS’s over these important issues. As the decisions on the geographical areas for selection exercises will be taken at Group/OSN level then that is the level where this consultation must take place. Group TUS should approach management to seek early consultation on these issues.

Who can apply

Every selection exercise should be open to every FTA AO who works in the geographical area (vicinity) covered by the selection exercise. The selection exercise is not open to temporary staff (casuals), or LEP’s, who were not recruited under fair and open competition. FTA AO’s currently absent on annual leave, sick, maternity leave must be given the opportunity to be included in the selection.

Selection process

The DWP selection process will be used to select AO’s. This process has been adjusted to allow for individuals to submit a brief summary of their evidence to each competency. Line managers will then score competency against each other.  Any members who are unhappy with their scores can use the DWP grievance procedures to challenge their scores. They may also seek the assistance of their local rep if they wish.

Staff can grieve against their scores but there is no further right of grievance if that score does not place them high enough to secure a permanent post. It is therefore important that members understand that if they believe they have been under-scored it is at that stage that they should raise a grievance and not wait until they know whether their score was high enough to secure a permanent position.

Number of permanent AO vacancies

Management are not able to say at this stage how many permanent AO vacancies there will be. This is mainly because they need to know how many AO’s are successful in the ongoing external EO/Band C recruitment exercise which would increase the number of AO posts that need to be filled.

More AO vacancies than FTA AO’s

If there is any geographical area where the number of AO posts exceeds the number of FTA AO’ then all of the FTA’s in that area may be offered a permanent post, though not necessarily in their existing operation or location. However managers have been told to be scrupulously fair in setting the boundaries for geographical areas in order to be fair to other FTA’s who may be disadvantaged if the pools are too tightly defined geographically.

Surplus AO’s

Any surplus AO/Band B’ staff from elsewhere in the department will take priority over FTA conversion. AO vacancies will also be advertised to surplus staff in other government departments.

AA to AO promotion exercise

Management have also decided to run an AA/Band A to AO/Band B promotion exercise. This will be run as a paper board. PCS is keen to ensure that our AA/Band A members are encouraged to consider applying for promotion and given the appropriate support and help from their local managers. A significant number of our Band A/AA members are surplus and many have been surplus for some time, especially those that remain in the Job Centre network.  Offering promotion is one way of helpfully addressing this issue, though members should not be placed under undue pressure to apply.

3 months contract extensions

PCS feared that some FTA AO staff may have been forced to leave DWP before this exercise has been completed due to their contract coming to an end. Following PCS’ intervention, management have agreed to extend the contracts of any FTA AO’s who would have been in this situation by up to 3 months.

AO recruitment

In any locations where there are more AO vacancies that can be filled by FTA AO’s being converted to permanency, or by other internal measures such as surpluses or promotion, then there is likely to be external AO recruitment exercises in those locations. PCS have also been informed that CCD intends to take on between 200-300 casual staff for 6 months at Dundee, Paisley, Newcastle, Middlesbrough, Marton Mere, Stockport, Derby, Bangor, Poole and Torquay contact centres until the permanent AO resource is available. PCS has made it clear to management that we believe that all future recruitment should be on a permanent basis.

 PCS Response

PCS welcome the moves to covert FTA AO’s into permanent staff. However we believe that DWP has again been much too cautious in its approach to staffing and should be making an offer of a permanent job to all of its FTA AO’s.

The pressure on DWP staffing continues to grow and the department should be expanding its workforce to address this mounting pressure faster and deeper than is currently proposed. Every one of our FTA members is needed to deal with our increasing workloads and PCS will continue to demand that all FTA staff be made permanent and to argue that more permanent staff are still needed.

Charles Law  

Industrial Officer


Rob Williams

Group Assistant Secretary




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