Napo Magazine - The Trade Union, Professional Association and campaigning organisation for Probation and Family Court staff news.

Reflections: Job Evaluation Scheme Victory

This week’s news on the successful appeal of Victim Liaison Officers (VLO) through the Job Evaluation Scheme – and the outcome that this role should be re-banded to Band 4 – marks the end of a struggle which began more than eight years ago.

It would not have been possible without the dedication and commitment of the VLO colleagues and the determined activism of Napo and the other trade unions and we pay tribute to those involved.

It is deserving of celebration by all Napo members for the gains made by these workers, but might be of greater significance in providing us with important lessons to take forward in the ongoing, daily fight we are engaged in as a trade union to improve the working lives and conditions for all our members and other working people.

One of our key aims as a trade union must be to do all we can to win better pay and improved terms and conditions for our members, even where this falls short of the substantial value our work should receive.

Regularly this involves the whole workforce through large scale collective efforts such as pay negotiations that brings at least some level of improved remuneration for us all.

It can also mean working through technical processes such as the Job Evaluation Scheme, ensuring the employer follows the outcomes of previous negotiations with all the trade unions to maintain the integrity of the scheme, and supporting the representations of our members, usually as a collective group in one specific role, to see the work they do better reflected in the pay banding it attracts.

Nobody is suggesting that JES is a perfect system, but it is a collective bargaining agreement that provides an important opportunity for us to make the case for appropriate recognition for members. It’s also worth saying that because of this the results apply to all staff, even those who have not chosen to join a trade union.

The VLO appeal has thrown up many queries and the employer must start working to explain their strategy for resolving them with the trade unions.

As your trade union Napo have raised repeatedly with the employer – for instance around the point the Probation Service was created in June 2021 – the need for a wider review involving substantial number of roles across each pay band in every part of the agency.

In recent years there has been a need to prioritise certain roles to be considered for review, for instance where they have been long-standing calls from the trade unions to do so as was the case with the VLO role.

Members will be aware of the changes won in past years for those who were employed in the roles of Receptionist or Approved Premises Residential Worker and their subsequent re-banding and can take this as evidence that the case of VLO staff is not an isolated one, but that winning these victories with groups of staff is unfortunately neither quick nor easy.

We remain committed to doing all we can so that the Job Evaluation Scheme is a fair and equitable process which our members can have confidence in. As a part of this we can advise members of the ongoing work the trade unions are undertaking with the employer to refresh the scheme, which we hope to report back on later in the year.

Napo will continue to highlight those roles where our members have seen the greatest addition of tasks or increased levels of responsibility which move these the furthest from the existing Job Description as justifying review under the Job Evaluation Scheme at the earliest opportunity.

Napo urge all members not to see any one victory for some as being at the cost of others in our union, this risks fracturing the collective purpose that has seen us win in the way we have earlier this week.

5 Responses

  1. Thank you for your hard work in supporting myself and other VLOs, I can’t thank you enough for being committed in your approach in getting what we deserved

  2. I feel that the Probation Officer should be considered for a Job Evaluation exercise. As the VLO role is now a band 4, we as existing band 4 are required to assess and manage risk of very complex cases, we have a huge amount of responsibility and are also subject to SFO interviews and ongoing scrutiny. I feel the role is under valued and underappreciated.

  3. The VLO role is in no way comparable to a qualified Probation Officer’s role. It is totally wrong they should be the same band. VLOs do not hold the same level of responsibility or accountability. They do not require the same level of qualification. They are not responsible for risk assessment, the management of high risk offenders or making decisions regarding recall. They are not required to produce reports to the high standard required for Courts or Parole Boards. They are not subject to SFO reviews. They do not require the skills to interview and challenge offenders. The reports they produce simply represent the victim’s views and they are not required to produce any analysis or assessment.

    This decision clearly shows how undervalued POs are. There has never been a problem recruiting or retaining VLOs and there certainly won’t be now! Nearly every PO I know will be applying for a VLO job! I can’t imagine how Band 3 PSOs must be feeling who are struggling to manage high caseloads- often taking on the role of a PO- and now their PSO counterparts in a different (easier) role are on a higher band than them!

  4. Thank you for your effort Question if you were at the top of your banding Grade3 do you go to Top of Grade 4 or do you start from the bottom

  5. Are there any plans to push for PSO’s to be moved to Band 4? As much as I agree that the VLO’s were entitled to this I feel highly undervalued as a PSO not being seen as comparable, especially with the high workloads and stresses we are subjected to.

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