HM Revenue and Customs has agreed to recognise that the majority of staff working in its Inland Pre-Clearance operations are effectively shift workers following a campaign that saw members of the PCS union vote to strike over the issue.
The move, which is understood to affect around 140 staff based in Milton Keynes, means the workers will be entitled to Shift Disturbance Allowance – boosting their base pay by 7.5% for the times when they work shift patterns.
PCS, which is the civil service’s biggest union, said HMRC had also agreed to provide back pay covering shift work at Milton Keynes dating back to February 2019, when the site opened.
Inland Pre-Clearance work involves selecting imports of goods arriving in the UK to check documents are in order and that the items are as described. It is conducted away from borders to minimise congestion.
Operations in Milton Keynes have previously focused on sea freight while a sister site – at Hayes, in west London – dealt with air freight from Heathrow. The Hayes site closed in September. PCS said it expected HMRC to examine shift patterns to determine whether staff who previously worked at Hayes were entitled to back payments.
HMRC's Inland Pre-Clearance operations at Milton Keynes take place on the huge Magna Park logistics estate where Waitrose has its national distribution centre and where DHL also has a base.
On Wednesday last week a ballot of PCS members at Milton Keynes showed overwhelming support for a strike to secure Shift Disturbance Allowance. More than 90% of union members backed the move in a vote that met the government’s legal threshold for industrial action.
Martin Kelsey, who is PCS group secretary at HMRC, said a “constructive and positive” meeting had taken place with management and the department had agreed to begin the process of assessing back-pay entitlements and adjusting future pay for officials who continue to work shifts.
“PCS welcomes the fact that HMRC has now accepted that we’ve had shift-working members in IPC for over four years who haven’t been paid proper shift pay,” he said.
“The next step will be to identify all individual IPC members, present and past, who’ve been working those shift patterns, and to make sure they are paid the shift pay they’re owed.”
A staff meeting for HMRC officials who work in Inland Pre-Clearance is due to take place tomorrow morning.
An HMRC spokesperson confirmed discussions over the shift-work payments were ongoing.
“We continue to hold constructive talks with PCS to work through the issues under dispute,” they said. “We don’t expect there to be any disruption to customers while we do this.”