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NR Travel & Expenses Policy Frozen

10 December 2014

No change without your say!

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   mb141209 Expenses Policy Newsletter

In late October, Network Rail distributed a new Business Travel and Expenses policy attempting to remove or reduce entitlements for staff to claim reasonable expenses at work. This was circulated via management cascade with a proposal to impose the policy from 17 November. Following a strong reaction by members your reps intervened, securing an agreement that existing policies continue to apply until further notice.

On 8 December, your reps met with management, reaching an agreement that meaningful consultation will take place before an amended policy is issued.

Major inconsistencies!

It was clear that the company did not have a consistent rationale for changing the arrangements for business travel and expenses, with excuses ranging from changes to tax legislation, improving safety, being more concise, “reflecting best market practices” and, tellingly, “being sensitive to the requirements of spending taxpayers’ money wisely”.

Management side could not even explain which groups of staff would be affected by the proposed policy, with uncertainty around whether everyone from TUPEd staff to those on Role Clarity contracts may have terms and conditions that prevent its unilateral imposition.

Goodwill under threat

Your reps reminded the company that the current arrangements exist to ensure that staff who undertake duties for NR away from their normal place of work are not out of pocket for doing so. We explained that without a breakfast and lunch allowance, staff will think twice before leaving home early to travel long distances and incur personal costs for NR’s benefit. For example, refusing to reimburse maintenance staff for lunch purchased and eaten near a worksite would resultin staff travelling to and from depots during paid working hours to prepare and eat lunch – the antithesis of spending taxpayers’ money wisely! After establishing that no regard had been given to the negative consequences for staff and the business, we shared numerous inconsistencies and problems with the document using feedback from members who had seen the policy document.

Management’s response

Management agreed to issue an amended document after we drew attention to changes such as the reduction in evening meal allowance described as “errors” and “oversights”. In addition:

  • Joint work to define “reasonable” breakfast, lunch and Personal incidental expenses
  • Further consideration given to reasonable use of cars
  • Provide clear comparisons between current arrangements and proposed changes with rationale for each
  • Analysis of current and potential business costs
  • Detailed scope of new policy
  • Consultation with relevant union reps

What can I do?

  • Continue to share views and concerns with your reps
  • Continue to claim expenses under the relevant policy as normal and contact your rep or the Members’ Helpdesk immediately if you have any problems
  • Encourage any colleagues who are not TSSA members to join online at www.tssa.org.uk/join to have a say in the consultation process
  • Share this newsletter with your colleagues and place copies on noticeboards

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