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Departmental Manpower

Volume 505: debated on Friday 5 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many employees in (a) his Department and (b) each of its agencies are in transition prior to being managed out; how long on average the transition window between notification and exit has been in (i) his Department and its predecessors and (ii) each of its agencies in each of the last five years; what estimate he has made of the salary costs of staff in transition in each such year; and what proportion of employees in transition were classed as being so for more than six months in each year. (313237)

Currently, there are 520 employees in the Ministry of Justice (including all agencies) who are in transition after accepting a voluntary early departure on severance or retirement terms. The breakdown of staff across the Ministry is as follows: two from the Office for the Public Guardian, 308 from the Access to Justice group, 199 from the National Offender Management Service and Her Majesty's Prison Service, 11 from the Corporate Performance Group. The majority are due to leave the Ministry within the next two to three months and the terms are governed by the Civil Service Compensation scheme. There are also 185 employees across the Ministry actively seeking permanent re-deployment following organisational change programmes.

For the early departure, the term 'transition time' is defined as the elapsed time from a formal agreement to leave to the actual date of departure. For redeployment, it is the elapsed time from the re-organisation occurring to the individual taking up a new work post. The average transition time is 90 days. There are 10 staff who have remained on the redeployment list, as an exceptional basis, for longer than 6 months. Whilst employees are on the redeployment list, or have accepted voluntary early departure, they continue to undertake meaningful work duties.

The average transition time in previous years has been 90 days.

The department is unable to provide the average salary costs for staff in transition in each year. This information is not held centrally and obtaining it would incur a disproportionate cost as the department currently operates several pay and HR structures and would be reliant on a number of different sources to establish the information requested.

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many performance reviews were undertaken in respect of staff of (a) his Department and its predecessors and (b) its agencies in each of the last five years; in how many cases performance was rated as unsatisfactory or below; how many staff left as a direct result of such a rating; and what percentage of full-time equivalent staff this represented. (313827)

Staff employed by the Ministry are subject to differing performance management arrangements according to their terms and conditions and depending on which part of the Ministry of Justice or its agencies they are employed in.

For all employees, performance management is a continuous process with annual and mid-year formal performance reviews of progress against objectives. The Ministry’s performance management system requires poor performance to be addressed when it occurs and not simply at specific points in the reporting year. Where appropriate, additional coaching and support is provided to employees to enable them to reach and maintain the required standards of performance appropriate to their roles. However, when employees are unable to meet and maintain acceptable standards of performance, sanctions up to and including dismissal are available.

Senior civil servants

Members of the senior civil service (SCS) are subject to a common performance management system based on relative assessment of achievement. Since 2007, the system has had four performance categories. Performance group four denotes performance not meeting the required standard. Prior to this, the performance management system had three performance categories: top, middle and lower tranche. The number of SCS employees receiving either a lower tranche or performance group four assessment is set out as follows.

Year of award

Number in lowest performance group

Percentage of SCS staff

2009

15

5.9

2008

14

5.7

20071

8

5.6

20061

10

6.7

20051

12

9.1

1 Refers only to former Department for Constitutional Affairs.

Non-SCS employees

Separate performance management arrangements (both in respect to in year and end of year assessment) exist for staff in grades below the SCS. Unlike the SCS, where employees are subject to relative peer group assessment with a guideline distribution between performance groups, below the SCS performance assessment is linked solely to the achievement of an individual’s work objectives. Ministry of Justice (excluding the National Offender Management Services) employees receive annual performance appraisals that indicate one of three performance markings—“Outstanding”, “Effective” and “Improvement Required”. The number of employees receiving an “Improvement Required” or equivalent during the past five years is as follows:

Year of award

Number in lowest performance group

Percentage of staff1

2009

137

0.6

2008

107

0.4

2007

49

0.2

20062

25

0.2

20052

25

0.2

1 The percentage does not reflect all poor performers in so far as the appraisal system does not capture those individuals who are exited for capability and performance reasons within a reporting year. The percentages are also different to the SCS position because the performance assessment basis is different.

2 Figures for 2005 and 2006 omit staff from the former magistrates courts service who transferred to the Ministry in 2005. Details relating to these staff are included from 2007, following the introduction of common terms and conditions.

As the award of an unsatisfactory performance marking invokes poor performance procedures but does not directly result in dismissal it has not been possible to provide information on the number of staff who have left as a direct result of an “Improvement Required” rating during the past five years without incurring disproportionate costs. However, we can confirm that in 2009, of the 134 staff below the SCS who were judged “Improvement Required”, 22 are no longer employed by the Ministry of Justice.

Appraisals are held annually for staff in the National Offender Management Service (NOMS) in grades below the SCS and there are four possible ratings: “Exceeded”, “Achieved”, “Almost Achieved”, and “Unacceptable”. The number of staff in NOMS who received an “Unacceptable” marking during the past five years, and the total number of recorded markings is as follows:

For year

Number in lowest performance group

Percentage of staff1

2004-05

96

0.22

2005-06

134

0.33

2006-072

79

0.25

2007-08

77

0.19

2008-09

72

0.16

1 The percentage does not reflect all poor performers in so far as the appraisal system does not capture those individuals who are exited for capability and performance reasons within a reporting year. The percentages are also different to the SCS position because the performance assessment basis is different.

2 There were fewer markings recorded in 2006-07 due to a change in reporting systems.

Information on the number of staff who received an “Unacceptable” marking and then left NOMS within the following year is contained in the following table (departures could be for any reason).

Staff receiving unacceptable markings who then left within one year

For year

Number

As percentage of unacceptable markings

As percentage of all staff

2004-05

45

46.9

0.1

2005-06

75

56.0

0.2

2006-07

37

46.8

0.1

2007-08

29

37.7

0.1

2008-09

10

13.9

0.0

NOMS processes mirror those in the rest of the Ministry in that performance management is a continuous process, based upon agreed objectives and in-year reviews. The “Unacceptable” marking does not automatically result in dismissal. However, employment may be terminated where the employee fails to meet the appropriate standard despite appropriate warnings and support. It has not been possible to provide information on the number of NOMS employees who have left the service as a direct result of an “Unacceptable” rating as the information is unavailable.