POA Circulars

50 | 11.06.2015

Disputes Process/Procedure

PSO 8525 POA Establishment Level Engagement – Enabling Agreement on Change Proposals and Resolving Disputes

At a recent NEC meeting the Executive discussed concerns that had been raised by local officials following the imposition of management change, Management Proposed Change (MPC) and/or when local officials have put forward a Suggestion for Change (SFC).
Whilst it is clear that all actions in the PSO are mandatory unless specified otherwise, the order is often disregarded or mismanaged by local governors. This is not acceptable.

Disputes should only be registered when both sides have been unable to reach an agreement.

A dispute must be raised if management have imposed change.

If a management proposed change has any element which falls under the provisions of NTS 39/2013 Trade Union Consultation and the Disclosure of Information these must be separated from the MPC and dealt with separately.

In respect of changes to grades or staffing numbers management must utilise the procedures set out in NTS 39/2013. If management are proposing changes to grades or staffing and agreement cannot be reached the process under PSO 8525 should be used in registering SFCs and disputes. In respect of the provision of information for changes to staffing and grades, local POA officials should use the Annex B form from NTS 39/2013.

Where management have imposed change or you have not reached an agreement on proposed change, you must contact your local NEC representative and advise them of the issue as soon as possible.

Imposed Change

The NEC are becoming increasingly aware of instances where local senior management have sought to impose changes without complying with recognised policy. PSO 8525 provides no scope for any change to be imposed. If in the event where the governor or local management has gone outside of policy and imposed change, you must write to the governor and demand a return to the status quo ante, (see para 3.4 of the PSO below). You must also raise an SFC if appropriate and go into dispute immediately using the procedures set out under PSO 8525.

Please forward a copy of all of the correspondence to your NEC representative and to the secretarial support staff who administer disputes (nicola@poauk.org.uk)

Abstracts of PSO 8525

Management and POA branches must engage constructively in the development of change proposals at an early stage.

  • Management Proposed Change (MPC): If management wish to implement a change which impacts on POA members, they must formally consult with the POA branch by issuing an MPC in writing. There is no standard format for the MPC, but the document should clearly state that it is a MPC, outline the proposed change and give the reason for that change. By issuing an MPC, and allowing the minimum of 28 days for discussion and a formal response, management will comply with NTS 20/2008 (now NTS 39/2013).
  • Suggestion for Change (SFC): If the POA branch are not satisfied that an issue they have raised with management has been properly addressed, they can raise an SFC in writing to management. There is no standard format for the SFC, but it must clearly state that it is an SFC, outline the issue of concern, give the reasons for that concern and the suggested change. The POA branch must allow a minimum of 28 days for discussion and a formal response.

Registering a dispute

  • If agreement is not reached, the party who has raised the MPC or SFC can register a dispute in writing after the expiry of the 28 day period (or more quickly if it is evident that agreement will not be possible) using the form at Annex A. The form must be sent to the Employee Relations team in the HR Directorate, copying in the other party, the Area Manager and the appropriate POA NEC area representative. A copy of the MPC or SFC must be attached to the form.
  • When a dispute is registered the working practices which were in place immediately prior to the MPC or SFC being raised must be maintained until conclusion of the disputes process. However, in exceptional and compelling circumstances, the Chief Operating Officer of NOMS may authorise a temporary management override to permit all or part of the requested change (from either the management or trade union side) to be applied whilst the disputes process is concluded. Where the COO activates the override they must inform members of the Employee Relations Committee in writing, giving reasons for the decision. It must also be discussed at the next Employee Relations Committee meeting.


It is vitally important that both party’s document and record proposed changes which impact on the operational requirements of any establishment. This should include copies of minutes and approval for paid time off for trade union duties.
Page 6 of PSO 8525 Annex A (attached) is the form which must be used when a dispute is registered by management or the local POA.


The POA have concerns over the process of dealing with disputes and are currently engaging with NOMS to bring about change. Until such time that this is achieved it is vital that the POA at local level ensure that the mandatory actions of PSO 8525 are followed and that the process set out in NTS 39/2013 is maintained.

This circular does not supersede the PSO or NTS but should be used as an aide memoire by local POA committees.

Thank you for your co-operation in dealing with this issue.

Yours Sincerely

General Secretary

POA Circular 50-2015 - Disputes Process.pdf

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