Change programme takes heavy toll on statistics workers

Change programme takes heavy toll on statistics workers

Prospect has warned the Office for National Statistics that poor planning of its change programme is putting members in its Economics Statistics Group under undue anxiety and stress – and putting outputs/data quality work at risk.

ONS announced its transformation programme in 2016. It started a job evaluation and regrading project in 2017.

But the process led to many ESG staff being unmatched in the ‘Target Operating Model’ (TOM) matching exercise.

The staff produced compelling evidence that the matching process was irredeemably undermined by inadequate ‘as is’ profiles which were baselined in March 2018 and used to match staff to TOM ‘to be’ profiles in July 2019.

Many of the ‘as is’ profiles were either inaccurate, inadequate, inappropriate, incomplete or out-of-date.

Unions said that the process of developing the ‘as is’ role profiles for ESG staff lacked transparency.

This resulted in many Prospect members in ESG feeling that they were being put at an unacceptable disadvantage when panels sought to match their ‘as is’ profiles to ‘to be’ profiles.

They claimed that although the proposed role was substantially the same as the current one, the profiles failed to match.

The unions submitted a collective appeal on behalf of members in ESG in August 2019.

They disputed the claim that ONS had consulted them on the content and allocation of ‘as is’ roles profiles in ESG and established a baseline position in a previous phase of the transformation.

They said that ESG’s failure to ensure that ‘as is’ profiles were up-to-date and accurate, and the flouting of the appeal process, breached the organisation’s change policy.

But ONS said the evidence the unions had provided in relation to the ‘as is’ role profiles was “not within the scope of this appeal mechanism”.

The unions met Jonathan Athow, acting National Statistician on 25 September to air their concerns. Management defended the ‘as-is’ profiles as robust and the unions are currently gathering evidence to formally challenge this.