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HMRC employee survey faces boycott

29 July 2011
Issue: 4315 / Categories: News
Fears that results could influence office closure plans

HMRC staff members may boycott the department’s next employee satisfaction survey over concerns that offices with low scores could be the first in line for closure.

Worries arose following comments allegedly made by executive committee member Steve Lamey to Revenue workers in Liverpool.

The issue was raised in April on the staff intranet, and Mr Lamey replied that he took account of ‘a range of factors including performance, attendance and engagement’ when deciding which offices were to be retained.

‘This is in no way intended to be a threat, simply a statement of those things which are important,’ he said.

He later added a clarification that, when talking about engagement, he was not ‘specifically talking about the engagement scores in the [staff satisfaction survey]’

Pressed by the unions to give a clear statement that low survey scores would not be taken into account in choosing offices for closure, HMRC’s CEO, Dame Lesley Strathie, wrote in April to employees to say that the only link was that ‘it is far more likely that offices with low engagement will be less productive’ and that ‘low productivity will, of course, come into it’.

After further representations, a second note was issued nearly a month later by Dame Lesley, saying that ‘decisions on office closures are only taken after exhaustive consideration of a wide range of factors but... survey scores are not one of those factors. ‘

The unions that represent HMRC workers, the PSC and ARC, passed condemnatory motions at their conferences, out of concern that the honesty of the survey had been compromised by the dispute.

ARC wanted assurances that members could answer the survey ‘safely’ and suggested to Revenue management that the answers were only reported at directorate level, not by office and team. The request was rejected.

Graham Black, president of ARC, said his union is balloting its members on boycotting the survey. He added that it was ‘very sad’ that the impasse had been reached.

The PCS is understood to consider its existing industrial action ballots over office closures to be sufficient for the union to recommend a boycott.

A statement from the taxman to Taxation said, ‘The... survey helps senior managers to understand what the key issues are for HMRC’s employees. We do not use the survey’s results to select offices for closure.’

Issue: 4315 / Categories: News
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