Ofsted rejects union claims that revised HR policy is ‘draconian’

Education watchdog Ofsted has defended its plans to scrap paid leave for staff to attend non-emergency situations and to introduce a formal dress code.

Under a revised HR policy announced last month, paid leave is only available to employees facing traumatic circumstances, such as the death or serious illness of a partner or dependent.

In more ‘routine circumstances’, such as picking up a child from school or providing childcare because they are unwell, staff will have to use annual leave or flexible working. The proposals are due to be implemented in January 2006.

The national officer of the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, Dean Rogers, said: “We are growing increasingly concerned about the draconian attitude of senior management towards staff. It is ludicrous that Ofsted is looking at penalising people for unforeseen events, such as a family member being taken ill.”

But a spokeswoman for Ofsted said: “We are market leaders in annual leave. All employees are entitled to 30 days’ leave per year, plus 10.5 days’ public holidays and privilege days. Ofsted believes this is a fair and reasonable approach.”

Ofsted also came under fire from the PCS union for proposing to ban t-shirts, short skirts and all denim clothing in its call centres in England.

The union is calling for a clothing allowance for Ofsted staff, if the dress code policy is enforced, as many employees earn less than £15,000 and will have to buy new clothes.

The Ofsted spokeswoman said the proposals ensured “minimum standards” and acceptable items of clothing “which are in line with modern business practice”.

“The PCS has said it will oppose any attempt to define acceptable standards which we believe is confusing and unhelpful,” she said. 

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