I’ll try to explain the background: at the same time as the public consultation about the Land Registry closures, the redundancy scheme for the whole civil service was also subject of an entirely separate public consultation. And the eventual outcome was this: a new scheme was introduced on the 1 April 2010, with a transitional period until 31 March 2011. The new scheme is, unsurprisingly, considerably less generous for the vast majority of staff – all apart from those approaching retirement age and those with only a few years’ service.
When the Land Registry anouncement was made about office closures, we were told that if we were being made redundant we could take the current terms right up until 31 March 2011, or could take the new scheme if we preferred. Our letters giving notice of threat of redundancy came with a personalised estimate of what we’d be due under the original scheme, and people could request a new calculation undeer the new scheme if desired. (Leaving after the 31 March 2011 would of course mean only the new terms would be available.)
But a huge spanner has been thrown into the works.
The PCS union requested a judicial review of the new scheme. And that review has ruled the new scheme to be unlawful. At first, it was announced that the entire new scheme simply no longer exists, so only the original estimates could be used. Those for whom the new scheme was more generous were frustrated and annoyed.
But now everyone’s frustrated and speculating once again. This email has been issued to all staff:
I said that we were unclear as to the implications for those leaving Land Registry in the coming months, and that we were waiting for further instructions and clarity from the Cabinet Office.
We have now been informed that there will be a further court hearing next week, where PCS and Cabinet office will be seeking to determine a more precise interpretation of the judgement. We do not know exactly when the outcomes of that hearing will be known.
Until then we have been advised:
- that we cannot use the ‘new’ compulsory scheme terms at all.
- that although we can move forward with the process for deciding people’s preferences, we cannot, at present, issue any further letters confirming dates of departure and the terms that would apply.
We understand that this is disappointing and unsettling, and we are sorry that this will mean that many people face an additional period of uncertainty and strain. These matters are all outside the control of Land Registry management, and we are doing all we can to bring certainty as quickly as we can. We are keeping our own trades unions informed as to the position.
We will write to you again as soon as we have further news.
In other words, we all feel like we’re in limbo. Even those of us who’d be better off under the existing scheme can’t agree leaving dates, and have no way of knowing what terms will apply when we go. So now it seems that no-one exactly knows what’s going on, and uncertainty reigns supreme once again.