Skip to main content

Jobcentre Plus

Volume 410: debated on Friday 19 September 2003

The text on this page has been created from Hansard archive content, it may contain typographical errors.

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions (1) how many staff in JobCentre Plus were employed on temporary contracts; how many were employed in London; and if he will make a statement on his policy on the employment of temporary staff in JobCentre Plus; [125493](2) what consultation was held in 2002–03 with trade unions concerning the termination of employment of temporary workers by JobCentre Plus; what his policy is on consultation with trade unions on the employment and termination of temporary contract workers; and if he will make a statement; [125494]

(3) how many staff on temporary contracts employed by JobCentre Plus (a) in total and (b) in London had their contracts terminated in financial year 2002–03; in each case how many (i) had been employed for more than 49 weeks but less than 52 weeks, (ii) were employed for more than 52 weeks, (iii) were women and (iv) were from minority ethnic communities; and if he will make a statement on his policy towards the termination of employment of temporary contract workers. [125495]

The administration of Jobcentre Plus is a matter for the Chief Executive of Jobcentre Plus, David Anderson. He will write to the hon. Member.

Letter from David Anderson to Mr. Andrew Dismore, dated 25 September 2003:

As Jobcentre Plus is an Executive Agency, I have been asked to reply to your questions concerning the employment of temporary workers and consultation with trade unions by Jobcentre Plus. This is something that falls within the responsibilities delegated to me as Chief Executive of the Agency.
I apologise for the delay in replying, which has arisen because of the need to obtain and verify the detailed information requested. Our payroll information does not distinguish between contracts that run their course or those which are terminated early. Information on contracts 'terminated' would therefore include both categories. It would not, however, include those who resigned In the course of their temporary employment.
During 2002–03 Jobcentre Plus took on 6,034 temporary staff and 6,968 temporary staff left our employment. 5,269 of these had their contracts terminated—1,048 of them in London—and the detailed information you requested about these temporary workers is set out in the table below.

Jobcentre Plus


Temporary workers whose contracts were terminated in 2002/035,2691,084
In each case how many:
Had been employed for more than 49 weeks but less than 52 weeks43385
Were employed for more than 52 weeks230
Were women3,300702
Were from ethnic minority communities1481135

1This data is collected from application forms and is voluntary. It may therefore, not represent the total sample. Across DWP, ethnicity data is only currently held for only 67.7% of permanent staff.

2 It is not the usual practice to extend contracts beyond 51 weeks. One contract was extended while the individual was awaiting the imminent results of her application for a permanent appointment—for which she was unsuccessful so her contract was ended. Two contracts were extended to cover acute shortfalls of staff.


Information from FAMIS and REBUS Payroll Database

Jobcentre Plus employs temporary workers for a number of reasons, for example, to help manage peaks of work and to aid release of permanent staff for training and preparation for major business change.
All Jobcentre Plus permanent staff are recruited through procedures and criteria which meet the Civil Service Commissioners' rigorous fair and open competition criteria. However, to support flexibility and responsiveness Jobcentre Plus generally does not recruit temporary staff through such procedures, as they are only being recruited to meet a short-term need. All temporary staff are recruited through a procedure that includes an initial application form, a sift, an interview, and the completion of pre-appointment checks. The Department recommends that at least three applicants are interviewed for each post. Equality of opportunity is central to all the Department's personnel and recruitment policies.
Jobcentre Plus informs temporary staff of the length of time they are likely to work for us by specifying the duration of their temporary contracts. This situation is then kept under review in relation to any changing business needs. Temporary contracts can be extended, up to a maximum of 51 weeks.
Managers at all levels of the business discuss with their trade union representatives Jobcentre Plus overall staffing requirements on an ongoing basis. In particular, these discussions cover the need for recruitment or promotion exercises, redeployment of staff, or the need to manage staff reductions. Discussions take into account the established policies within the Department for Work and Pensions for dealing with these issues—policies which have been subject to consultation with the trade unions at Departmental level.
In the case of managing staff reductions Jobcentre Plus has agreed principles for redundancy avoidance and handling with the trade unions which set out a number of measures to avoid redundancies of permanent staff. These measures make specific reference to reducing or eliminating the use of casual/temporary staff and contract employees.
Between April 2002 and February 2003, Jobcentre Plus London region reduced its permanent staffing through a combination of staff moving to The Pension Service, other parts of the Department for Work and Pensions, other Government Departments and through natural wastage. In reaching the reduction in staffing figures, no permanent members of staff were dismissed or made redundant.
A number of meetings, at both Regional and District level, have taken place with trade union representatives since last summer about the deployment of staff across London region. These meetings have also been supplemented by correspondence. Headcount target figures were shared with trade union regional colleagues in September 2002, and a discussion on measures required to manage towards those workforce numbers took place at a meeting on 25 September 2002.
Subsequently, specific plans for releasing temporary workers were discussed with union representatives in January 2003. Detailed letters followed this meeting together with a further meeting, which took place in February 2003.
I hope this is helpful.