ISU Membership Circular 13.02.2017

Dear Members,

Finally – a circular that begins with some good news !

We now have confirmation that requirement to rank a mandatory ‘Bottom 10%’ has been removed from the year-end PDR process. The ‘less effective’ category hasn’t been abolished but there is no longer any need to place set numbers in that bracket. We anticipate that, without the ‘forced distribution’ element, this will be used far more sparingly. The ‘Top 25%’ and accompanying bonus will however be retained. We hope that with these common-sense transitional arrangements, the end of year process this Spring will be less controversial than before. Much better that we all now focus on creating a fairer, more supportive PDR system for the future.

We are in active consultation concerning the detail of that new PDR system to take effect from April and will share further detail shortly – however we can say that both the tone of discussion with the Department and the emphasis of the new policy are a great deal more positive than we have seen in recent years.

Detainee Access to Medication

Members may be aware of recently issued Border Force instructions stipulating that detainees in our holding rooms should not be permitted to take any medications they may have in their possession. Paramedic support should instead be summoned. Border Force are clear that their advice – sourced from National Health England and the General Medical Council – is that permitting medication to be taken under circumstances where provenance cannot be verified creates greater welfare and liability risks than referring for medical attention in the UK. This seems to us to reflect unduly negative view of overseas medical care – in most cases, detainees will carry medications appropriately prescribed by doctors in countries of origin with healthcare systems at least as good as the UK. There will be exceptions of course, it simply seems peculiar to tailor our policy to those exceptions.

Even so, in many cases this will simply create further administrative burdens around detention – hardly welcome news for our already over-pressed members but the employer is entitled to follow the processes they choose.  However there are circumstances where this instruction as it stands creates risk of foreseeable, readily preventable harm. It is important that members understand potential implications, the more so in locations without 24/7/365 detention contractor presence, where duty of care sits directly with us.

There are situations where medication must be taken immediately to prevent escalation of dangerous symptoms. For example, many heart patients, particularly angina sufferers, use Glyceryl Trinitrate sprays when they experience early signs of potential cardiac event. Other heart patients use adrenaline under such circumstances – denial of access to this may have very serious consequences. Asthmatics need to use inhalers, diabetics need access to insulin. It takes time to summon and await paramedics – often longer than is ideal – and it is distinctly possible that this delay will have harmful consequences.

We cannot believe that this can be justified where a detainee already has correctly prescribed medication in their possession. If, in the worst case, a death in custody occurs under these circumstances how on earth do we defend denying someone vitally needed medication ? We’re very confident that a Coroner’s Inquest will be profoundly unimpressed by an argument that the medication was prescribed in Canada and so could not possibly be used…..

While any liability under such horrendous circumstances should be corporate – and certainly not passed down to the staff forced to follow flawed instructions – that will do nothing to dispel the trauma and stress anyone involved will inevitably experience. This is genuinely awful territory on every level. It is imperative that all measures are taken to reduce risk of harm. We have pressed these points with Border Force and they are taking further policy advice around potential ‘exception’ categories within the policy. We will update you further once that information becomes available.

Job Adverts

Increasingly we are seeing Job Trawls, whether for temporary postings or permanent vacancies, which don’t at face value meet standard selection process. For example, where unnecessary selection criteria are used or the opportunity seems unduly restricted. Increasingly Expressions of Interest rather than full competency based selection process are being used to fill vacancies – and there is no formal policy governing the Expressions of Interest process. Inevitably this leads to inconsistency and can create significant risk of procedural unfairness.

Some of these job adverts are not published nationally but instead advertised locally – so we don’t necessarily see them in time. We need members to report any job advertisements of concern to us for our further action – in addition to intervening with recruiting managers where appropriate, we are building a dossier of evidence to reflect our concerns formally with central HR. Please report any issues with job adverts or process to [email protected]

NEC Elections

We now have the result of the recent NEC Member elections. Successful candidates were Stuart Band, Simon Bonsor, Claire Faxon and Ken Stiles. Terms of office begin after ISU Conference in March. Congratulations to all – and particularly to Ken who is elected to the NEC for the first time.

Mark Gribbin

National Chair