Union claims partial victory in DWP bonus scheme dispute

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) has claimed a partial victory in its high court action with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) over its disputed new bonus system.

The argument, which has already resulted in six days of strike action in 2004, centres on the Performance Development System (PDS). The union claims that under the system at least 50 per cent of staff will be rated as poor, irrespective of their individual performance.

If too many employees are given the higher performance marking then they will be compared against each other to reduce the number of staff to the predetermined level (this is called relative assessment), the union said.

The PCS claims this amounts to a breach of contract for staff working in Jobcentres, benefits, child support agencies and the pension service.

Following the High Court decision, grievance procedures will apply to the appraisal scheme and employees will now be allowed to appeal retrospectively against their 2004 PDS box markings.

However the High Court ruled that the introduction of relative assessment quotas as part of the PDS in the DWP was not a breach of contract.

Mark Serwotka, PCS general secretary, said: “The decision of the High Court in no way changes the deeply unpopular nature of PDS, which has seen 97 per cent of staff voting against the system.

“The level of dissatisfaction with PDS means that whatever the decision today, PDS must be radically reformed if it is to gain the confidence of staff,” he said.

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