Highlights from Joint Officers meeting
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Here is some news from our branch activities, showcasing what your UNISON volunteers do for our members in the course of running the branch. These highlights are the issues that were discussed at a recent Joint Officers meeting, showing you the topical issues that we take up on behalf of our members.

  • Exit interviews – turnover, recruitment and retention are hot topics at the moment for both the business and the TUs but a decent data set on why people leave has been lacking. Work has been going on to identify what can be done to improve the situation and the outcome will be shared with us soon
  • Performance & development – there is a Defra-wide review of this going on and a number of people from the Agency are involved, including TUs and reps from employee networks. Watch out for a new page on this on Easinet very soon.
  • Creating a better place to work – it is still early days wrt knowing what typical office occupancy levels will look like in the short, medium and long term. Forthcoming Agency comms will focus on asking teams to revisit their team charters to check they are still relevant and workable. Some probably haven’t really been tested yet. Next Pulse survey will also focus on this plus people’s experience of going back to the office and/or how they feel about going back. Don’t forget that staff can have reasonable adjustments for both WFH and in the office, so if anyone needs both please talk to your line manager. We need to make more and better use of Employee Passports, make them more of an everyday tool used by a majority rather than a minority of employees.
  • Security vetting – after well over a year of trying to get some answers about who this applies to and under what circumstances, we were told that the Agency & (especially) Defra HR have been doing a lot of work and should be able to share something with us soon.
  • TU involvement in induction of new starters – a commitment was made to talk to the manager in charge of this to see what might be possible. Induction events are likely to remain virtual so we will need some discussions with the Agency about format etc, and will also need to consider how to maximise our impact at any event.
  • Salary sacrifice schemes for ULEVS – any such scheme requires HMT approval, and it isn’t exactly keen as SS reduces  tax revenues at a time when public finances are under a lot of pressure. A scheme hasn’t been absolutely ruled out but it won’t be happening anytime soon. The Agency / Defra are watching out for any developments elsewhere that might help us craft something acceptable to HMT.
  • Business mileage rates – unsurprisingly more and more people are pointing out the gulf that is opening up between record pump prices and our reimbursement rates (set by HMRC). The Agency is going to look into what can be done.

I hope that you find this informative, but please feel free to feedback and let us know if this is helpful content and what else you would like to see.


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