A recent Freedom of Information Request made under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 revealed some interesting detail around the HR Policies and Procedures regarding performance measurement at the Child Maintenance Service (CMS).
Please provide a copy of the performance criteria used to assess caseworkers and their managers during any appraisal process that you may run
Please provide the HR policies and criteria under which staff at the Child Maintenance Service may earn compensation in addition to their basic salary (any commission or bonus payments).
The CMS responded
Attached to this letter is the information you requested. The documents are:
- DWP’s People Performance policy. This contains the rules all managers in DWP, including the Child Maintenance Group, must follow when setting each year’s work objectives.
- The standard work objectives designed for employees of the Child Maintenance Group. These are standard and would be tailored to reflect things like an employee’s grade, role or relevant circumstances (e.g. disability)
- DWP’s ‘Award and Recognition’ policy, which lays down clear rules, criteria and limits on awards for exceptional achievement. All awards, including any authorised within the Child Maintenance Group, must conform to this policy.
Let’s take each of these documents in turn and examine them.
The First Document is the “People Performance Policy 2016 / 17”
- This document lays out the “Policy Principles”. It talks about “knowledge”, “skills”, and “experience”.
- “Performance management is key to driving up individual and organisational performance and providing greater value for money to deliver high quality public services.”
Next comes their “Standard Work Objectives“. There is a lot in this document so we will select areas that we consider pertinent to highlight. The full document will be linked to later in this post so you can review it at your own leisure.
Firstly, a little bit about the qualifications of the people to whom these documents relate. There are various levels of CMS employee with many of the people handling cases having the title of “Administrative Officer” or “AO”. You can read about the job roles of an AO on the government’s National Career Service Website:
In terms of educational recruitment for AO’s in the Civil Service
You could work in a range of government departments or agencies. Each department sets its own entry requirements. You may also need:
- 2 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for an administrative assistant role
- 5 GCSEs at grades 9 to 4 (A* to C) for an administrative officer post
Civil Service National Careers Service
So, now we know the “type” of employee that is subject to these appraisals and that they “may” have 5 GCSE’s at grade C.
Going back to their appraisal process for “Standard Work Objectives”, the objective categories that they have to meet are as follows:
Much of the competency criteria to measure their objectives are devoid of any sort of quantitative or qualitative rating system (although some suggestive references can be seen elsewhere in the document. We do not know whether this would produce consistent appraisal results across the service). Readers may be interested to know the following items which occur for multiple levels and tasks (ie. caseworkers responsible for new case management, arrears or specialist caseworkers). We will identify some of the performance targets for various stages within an active CMS case.
The caseworker should be encouraging a family based arrangement and the Direct Pay method of payment. They are also encouraged to use “telephony” as the “primary means of contact” in order to (among other things) “maximise performance”.
[EDITOR’S NOTE: We have written an article in the opinion section of the VoC site explaining why it is not advisable to use the telephone when communicating with the CMS (you can find it here).]
Team leaders have a different set of criteria that they are assessed against which is in the document.
New Case and Case Maintenance
Again, Family Based arrangements are supposed to be “promoted at every opportunity“.
Here’s what it says about their Customer deliverables if you have an open case:
Throughput: Progress allocated SRs within their SLA
contributing to the team targets of 90% within SLA and
restarts in 12 weeks and use these to manage customer
Customer Satisfaction: In line with the 8 promises to clients
and compliance to Make that call, Make a difference deliver
excellent customer service, making effective proactive use of
the telephone (in line with call handling quality guide) to
contact and update clients. Contribute to the 10% outbound
calling rate for the team.
Call backs: Ensure all call-backs allocated to you are made
within the agreed timescales.
Availability: Ensure maximum telephony availability to
improve the client experience and use correct AUX codes
Complaints/Dissatisfaction: Ensure all steps are taken to
resolve client concerns where possible.
Self Service SRs/Activities: Ensure all Self Service
SRs/Activities are completed within the agreed
timescales and within a 24 hour measure.
Interestingly, with respect to any Arrears they say this:
Arrears Management: Negotiate to make the best possible
agreement by a preferred collection method, adhering to the
Card Collections: Identify opportunities and negotiate a card payment to regain compliance and/or reduce arrears.
Financial Accuracy: Ensure all casework decisions are cash value accurate, contributing to the 97% team target.
There is a lot more to read in the document (we provide a link at the bottom of the article) so we’ll leave you to ponder the rest of it at your own leisure.
What sort of Reward or Bonus do the CMS receive for doing their job?
Many of the aims and objectives sound reasonable “on paper”. I’m sure that many of you would want your calculations to be correct and to have a stress-free experience when communicating with the CMS either on the phone or (as we recommend) in writing. So, what incentives do the CMS have to get it right? We have obtained a copy of their “Rewards and Recognition Policy“.
The Department operates a number of different awards schemes:
End of Year Performance Award Policy: For Pay 2015, if you have an Exceeded or Achieved performance rating, you will be eligible for an individual end of year performance award in recognition of your individual contribution.
In Year Reward and Recognition Policy You may be awarded a one-off award outside of the annual reward exercise to recognise and reward exceptional personal or team achievement
Team Bonus Scheme Policy: In some areas of the business the Department may, at its discretion, operate a Team Bonus Scheme
Loyalty and Recognition Award Policy: To demonstrate the importance the Department places on loyalty, commitment and a positive contribution to public service, the achievement of key milestones of 5, 10, 25, 30, 40 or 50 years service will be recognised by the presentation of either a certificate or an award.
End of Year Performance Award Policy
CMS make reference to a “Pay Offer Letter” which was not provided but presumably lays out amounts available for end of year discretionary awards.
The DWP refers to these end of year awards as “non consolidated payments”. Most of us would call them a “bonus”.
The levels for 2017 are as follows:
|Grade of Employee||AA (Administrative Assistant)||AO (Administrative Officer)||EO (Executive Officer)||HEO (Higher Executive Officer)||SEO (Senior Executive Officer)||G7||G6|
In Year Awards Policy
All DWP employees in Paybands A to G/Grades AA to Grade 6 are eligible to be nominated for an in year reward and recognition award. Managers can use the scheme to recognise valuable or exceptional contributions to business performance and to incentivise an employee or a team of employees
They say that the scheme is funded with 0.23% of the staff budget (we know from publicly available information that in 2015 the overall CMG staff budget amounted to approximately £4.79mln so in broad brush figures they are budgeting £11,017 across the whole group for in year performance rewards.
There are 2 types of awards:
Cash awards – these are paid with salary and can be for any amount of £50 and above. All cash payments are made with salary through payroll and are subject to tax and National Insurance contributions. Awards do not count towards pension or superannuated pension.
Voucher awards – these are awarded as a retailer gift card and must be for an amount between £25 and £50 in £5 increments per employee. Employees must choose the the brand gift card from an agreed list of retailers.
Team Bonus Awards
Businesses may design their own schemes, including the structure, targets, team boundaries and amounts payable (subject to the limits imposed by the bonus funding available to that business and subject to agreement with the Employee Policy Centre of Expertise).
Loyalty and Recognition Awards
You will be eligible for a certificate or an award when you have completed 5, 10, 25, 30, 40 or 50 years’ qualifying service with the Department. All periods of previous government service will be aggregated towards the calculation of the loyalty and recognition awards.
So what are they eligible for?
5 Years: £25 gift card
10 Years: “A certificate”
25 Years: A choice of either: A gift or gifts to the value of £250 or an additional 37 hours (36 in London Pay zones) special leave with pay regardless of the hours you work.
30 Years: £50 gift card
40 Years: £100 gift card and a certificate personally signed by the Permanent Secretary
50 Years: £150 gift card and a certificate personally signed by the Permanent Secretary
Download the files and have a read for yourself
Once you’ve had a chance to read these documents for yourself, we at the Voice of the Child would be interested to know if you feel that your experience in dealing with the CMS demonstrates that they are meeting their performance standards?
Please post your comments below.
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