Bectu, NUJ and Unite members concerned about plans to change long-established practice

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Unions representing BBC workers have registered a dispute over planned changes to the staff appraisal scheme.

Bectu, NUJ and Unite members are concerned at plans to remove the long-established practice which provides for sign off on the annual appraisal by manager and employee. BBC Human Resources wants managers to bear responsibility for submitting the form electronically, a change which could mean that forms are submitted without the agreement of staff and without staff comments.

In addition, union officials have raised questions about the BBC’s desire to encourage managers to assign their staff a rating. A voluntary rating system was introduced last year but unions suspect that take up was poor,  hence a change in tack for 2012.

BECTU supervisory official Helen Ryan said: “Last month the BBC announced that they were going to introduce an electronic appraisal form. Although on the face of it this looked okay, there are problems regarding sign-off  – the employee does not have any part in the sign off submission of the completed form to HR Direct – which we believe is a problem.

“In addition the BBC proposed to ‘encourage’ managers to give verbal ratings regardless of whether individuals wanted them or not. We made it very clear at the NJC that we saw this as a roll out of mandatory ratings which the joint unions are opposed to and that if the BBC proceeded on this basis we would have no alternative but to place the matter into dispute.

“The BBC have confirmed that they intend to proceed and therefore I have placed the matter into dispute on behalf of the joint unions.”

In representations to date, BECTU has challenged the BBC’s lack of clarity as to how a ratings system could be applied consistently within departments and across the entire BBC.

An avoidance of dispute meeting will be held on April 19th.

Helen Ryan said: “The BBC have rejected the proposal of a 2-person sign off on the basis of the ‘complexities this would introduce from a technology / process perspective’. We do not believe that is an acceptable response.”

Pending the outcome of the formal avoidance of disputes meeting on 19 April, the joint unions are advising their members that they cannot boycott  the existing appraisal scheme. Instead members are being encouraged to participate in their appraisals based on the application/use of:

  • a hard copy appraisal form
  • recorded ratings only if members want to use them
  • no verbal rating to be given.

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