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Network Services Review – Final Report Published 03/04/2012

Posted by pcsdwpsheffield in Uncategorized.

The final report from the Network Services Review has now been published. This review was set up to look at working methods and employee practices across DWP contact centres based on the experience of the former PDCS, Jobcentre Plus and other contact centre networks.


Aims of the Network Services Review

The aim was to identify and implement best practice recognising the need for an efficient and effective operation, excellent customer service and that an engaged and committed workforce is an important part of keeping our contact centres amongst the best in the UK.


Specifically the review also included:

  • An examination of the causes of sickness within Network Services to try to eliminate them and improve attendance levels.
  • A review of call times and scripts with the aim of improving customer service, call resolution and reducing hand offs
  • Consideration of resource levels to ensure that DWP contact centres are appropriately resourced
  • Commitment to DWP contact centres being amongst the best in the UK, sustaining accreditation to the CCA Global Standard.






Demands of the PCS contact centre dispute

Within the review PCS has been seeking to resolve the long-standing dispute in CCD. The GEC objective has been to supplement the improvements achieved last year through the Interim Agreement.  These were:


  • An end to 7.24 scheduling, an end to real-time management and the abolition of real time management.
  • Introduction of more non-telephony work to allow for job rotation and reasonable adjustments
  • Give members a choice over where they work by allowing those who want to transfer out of CCD to be able to do so
  • Genuine access to full flexible working, full access to all DWP terms and conditions such as Special leave, Annual leave and a supportive approach to sickness and well-being at work
  • Respect at work including career development, promotion opportunities and good job design
  • No erosion of service or privatisation of our work


Changes to DWP Structures

Prior to the review it had been expected that Network Services would include all DWP telephony teams, as a result of the organisational changes to DWP that came in last October. However management decided to retain, at least for the time being, telephony operations within their home business (e.g. Pensions, DCS, etc) rather than moving them all into the new Network Services Directorate. As a result of this the recommendations that have emerged from the review only apply to members in Contact Centre Services at this stage.


Additional improvements secured:

Attached to this briefing are the recommendations from the review. The additional improvements to members working conditions that have been achieved in the review are:


  • Stress awareness training to be provided for line managers
  • A cross DWP approach to ensure alternative employment is offered to staff, including within another arm of DWP, as a temporary or permanent reasonable adjustment.
  • A consistent level of ’wait time’ of 11% should be delivered across the network wherever possible.
  • Annual leave levels to be set between 18 to 25 %. (This is a cross DWP initiative)
  • In day leave requests should be supported.
  • Further work to be done to review the use of mandatory text  for calls and end the insistence on using the exact wording in the script
  • Only significant over, or under, achievement of Average Handling Times should be investigated. Tolerances around the margins of the average AHT level are to be expected and should result in no management action being taken.
  • Performance of individuals to be viewed in the round taking account of quality as well as efficiency
  • A further review of the role and responsibilities of team leaders to be conducted
  • The actual number of staff on a team to not exceed 14.
  • Borrow resources from other operational areas at peak times
  • Commitment to improve employee relations.


The review has produced some additional improvements that supplement those already achieved through the interim agreement that PCS reached with CCD management last year. While this progress is welcome we have not yet been able to make progress in other key areas, such as flexible working and a greater mix of processing and telephony work.  Overall the outcome is disappointing.


Flexible Working

On flexible working, management concluded that the flexibilities offered to staff in Contact Centre Services are not out of line with the flexibilities on offer in other DWP telephony areas. As a result they have not been prepared to offer any additional improvements to flexible working over those that had previously been agreed in the interim agreement.


Management have agreed to explore alternative approaches to scheduling and start and finish times and talks continue.  It is extremely disappointing that the review has failed to produce improvements to flexi time as it has been clear that progress on flexible working was always a key element in resolving the long-standing contact centre dispute.


Business Model

The review has also avoided a key issue for the future.  This is the issue of the DWP contact centre business model that completely separates processing work from telephony work. Management decided not to include this issue within the scope of this review.  PCS believes this is a missed opportunity.  Work on this issue will now be subsumed into the wider planning for the business model to support the introduction of Universal Credit and the Personal Independence Payment next year.


Further Review of Network Services

Management have recently decided to run a second review of DWP telephony. This review aims to enable DWP to standardise common processes and to streamline structures and responsibilities. The review will look at the similarities and differences across all DWP telephony operations. It will focus on underpinning technology, the use of Genysis, and performance management. This review is expected to last 3 months with continuing consultation with PCS.


Next Steps

Clearly we need to make more progress in order to resolve the dispute.  In the meantime reps and members should continue to ensure that the interim agreement is properly adhered to by local management and continue to use the escalation framework to ensure any problems are raised with local management and escalated where necessary.


There will be a meeting of Contact Centre Services reps on 12th April to allow reps the opportunity to discuss the outcomes of the review and what our next steps should be. The Group Executive Committee will also meet on 18th and 19th April to consider the outcomes of the review, the reps meeting and the next steps in this dispute.


Charles Law

Industrial Officer


Paul Barton

Group Assistant Secretary




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