Concern for Inland Revenue staff as restructure details announced

In July of this year, details were finally announced on Inland Revenue’s proposed restructure, which could affect the roles of up to 4000 staff. Working Life takes a look at the ins and outs of the restructure and how these changes could impact members over the next few years.

Inland Revenue (IR) is embarking on a significant restructure of staff in service delivery, and some of the specifics were revealed to staff on July 19th. 

All things considered, the PSA is concerned with many elements of the restructure – particularly how it will affect current staff – and is troubled by the potential impact on the integrity of New Zealand’s tax system, especially given that IR is rolling out an overhaul of its computing systems alongside the restructure that will significantly change the way it administers the tax system.

Combined, this could have a major impact on the way the department operates; especially if long-serving specialist staff affected by the restructure depart the organisation or have to reapply for broad, ‘catch-all’ positions in order to keep their jobs. Even after the restructuring details have been announced, ambiguity is still the word of the moment for many loyal staff, who don’t have sufficient information about the changes and do not even know what kind of job they’ll be doing in four years’ time.

There are some certainties. At present, IR employs over 5600 staff, but it expects that number to be closer to 3700 by 2021, according to Select Committee documents. Despite IR’s promises in the media that there will be no reduction in frontline staff, it’s clear to the PSA that there will be massive changes to individuals’ roles over the next four years, and that could involve redundancies as well as reductions by attrition.

The overall vision is unclear. IR presents the idea of a streamlined department where technological changes will eventually reduce the need for human interaction with customers. But long-serving and stressed staff say they’re already dealing with huge workloads, and any further reduction in staff could hinder the department’s ability to enforce tax compliance and evasion, for example.

The PSA is opposed to IR’s use of psychometric testing. Many current staff are going to have to apply for roles. We don’t see why they should be subjected to pseudo-scientific testing when they’ve already demonstrated competencies in their current work. And what message does that send to experienced staff? IR has said that if staff refuse to subject themselves to psychometric testing they will not be considered for roles they seek.

The PSA recognises the need for technological changes and supports good change management processes, but we consider that IR staff have not been given sufficient information and their views have been ignored by IR. Consultation was rushed, and some questions and many concerns brushed away rather than addressed.

The PSA has just completed a series of meetings with members at IR to consult with them about how the changes will likely effect their roles, but there’s still a lot of anxiety and vagueness in the air around how this will play out. The union will be meeting with IR shortly after this goes to print.

We continue to focus on the interests and concerns of our members, who are looking out for more than just their jobs. Our members at IR also really care about the work they do and want to see their organisation working successfully, both now and in the future.