Bending and Kneeling within DWP

J Newman made this Freedom of Information request to Department for Work and Pensions

Department for Work and Pensions did not have the information requested.

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Earlier this year, the test for bending and kneeling was removed from the WCA on the basis that it is no longer a requirement or feature of the modern workplace. Whilst I am sure DWP itself is fully compliant with disability and discrimination legislation, I would like to know within DWP:
Q1: What, if any, specific changes have been made to eliminate bending and kneeling?
Q2: When recruiting, would DWP mention the need or otherwise to bend or kneel?
Q3: What arrangements DWP has made to accommodate employment of people who cannot bend or kneel:
a. In relation to briefing and expectations of other staff?
b. In relation to physical changes to workplace layout?
I am not interested in general assurances over the Departments legal compliance (I take this for granted), what I want to know it what it has changed that justifies inclusion of the bending/kneeling test up to around March 2011, but not beyond.

There are very many examples of jobs where bending or kneeling cannot be avoided.
Q4: Does this mean that someone who cannot bend or kneel
a) Cannot apply for these jobs or
b) Employers are expected to adapt the workplace and/or provide appropriate assistance so that they can perform the requirements of the job?
Q5: If an employer has not made an attempt to make any form of accommodation, are they regarded as behaving in a discriminatory manner and therefore liable to prosecution?

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

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been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

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[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear J Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request 3853

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

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Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Bending and Kneeling within DWP'.

I am trying to establish here if this change to descriptors can be genuinely justified by evidence or has been made for surreptitious reasons. So far everything points to the latter.

I would be grateful therefore if you could confirm that I have the right understanding of your response as follows:

1) There is no evidence that bending/kneeling was any less a feature of the modern workplace in March 2011 than previously, so the removal of this consideration from a WCA cannot be supported or justified on an objective basis. Yes or no?
If no, please explain why and where the evidence is – none of the references you have supplied so far do this. I have quoted to you a number of examples where no such changes have been made nor will they be in the foreseeable future.

2) DWP itself has not made any changes to workplace design aimed specifically at eliminating the need for this movement and from its own experience/efforts cannot support the descriptor change. True or false?

3) For someone who cannot bend and kneel, DWP has no information to indicate the proportion of job vacancies may be unsuitable and cannot therefore be sure that that ANY are, other than by supposition. Yes or no?
4) DWP’s internal risk assessments are made based on unimpaired employees and not from the standpoint of someone who cannot bend or kneel. Yes or no?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/be...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also have any further queries in connection with this request
do please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

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References

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1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear J Newman

Please see attached response to your FoI request IR 21

Kind regards

DWP Central FoI Team

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Bending and Kneeling within DWP'.

Does the FoI Act allow you to:

1)Respond to questions with references that do not in fact address the specific question raised (although they may contain information around the question) and claim that the question has been answered?

2)When this is pointed out to you through a request for an Internal Review, automatically take the same stance and claim that the question has been answered when it has not?

and does it prevent you from saying “we do not hold the information you have requested” when this is in fact the case, or are you obliged to find the best “fit” you can?

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/be...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also have any further queries in connection with this request
do please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see attached response to your FoI request.

Kind regards,

DWP Central FoI Team

show quoted sections

Dear Department for Work and Pensions,

Please pass this on to the person who conducts Freedom of Information reviews.

I am writing to request an internal review of Department for Work and Pensions's handling of my FOI request 'Bending and Kneeling within DWP'.

Ahh, I see. Please allow me to explain some of the distinctions here that you evidently cannot separate.

It is not possible to "disagree" as you put it with factual information - it is what it is. One may not like it and think it should be different, but that is a separate issue.

One may wish to authenticate the information and it is perfectly legitimate to ask where it came from and what support (if any) it has. If the answers to this are evasive or wrong, it is perfectly legitimate to further pursue the truth. "Wrong" in this context would be for example a source document supplied that actually DOES NOT contain the information you have said it does. This happens a lot.

If a question is asked, you are required to answer it one way or another - there is no provision for you to ignore it. This too happens a lot.

If one asks a specific question that might just require a yes or no answer (and even say that this is all that is required), it is not satisfactory to receive as a reply that says a lot but omits either of these two words. By all means include ADDITIONAL info if you feel it might be helpful (this is often much appreciated), but not if in so doing you do not actually answer the question that has been asked. It is not for us to deduce the answer to a question from general information you have provided around it and run the risk of misinterpretation - it is perfectly right to ask you for clarity and if you cannot provide it you should say exactly that – if there are contradictions in your documents, so be it – there is no point in you trying to disguise it – it is what it is!

I do not know what general standards of management prevail in DWP, but I assume pretty much as in the private sector. Likewise I assume, indeed expect, DWP to use “best practice” in whatever it does and deploys all the techniques available to ensure management is effective – taxpayers’ money and all that. All of this sets an expectation, which means sometimes, it is quite surprising to be told that requested information is not apparently available. This creates a suspicion that the information is being withheld without good reason – the only alternative is that it has not been collected which suggests incompetence and I am not sure which is worse. I guess the other possibility is that it does exist but has been deliberately stored in a way that keeps it outside FoI legislation.

I have also learnt that some information (particularly if it is potentially sensitive or embarrassing) can be difficult to extract. By this I mean that one can be pretty sure the recipient in DWP has a very clear idea of what the question is driving at, but chooses to play the answer “by the book” and/or feign a misunderstanding and/or manufacture & exploit any opportunity for ambiguity.

Added to this is the IR facility, which operating in much the same way invariably supports DWP in anything it has to investigate – a passing acknowledgement for a delay here and there is about the only concession it seems willing to make. I have to say, this is no surprise to me and very typical of any in-house monitoring/audit process – self-policing rarely works effectively.

With this overall backdrop, you should not be surprised that so many requests are recycled several times.

Returning specifically to IR89, you ironically have not answered my questions from 18th Feb. As far as I am concerned, they are valid questions about the way in which you deal with FoI requests. I expect there to be a manual or handbook that deals specifically with these points to ensure that legality, rigour and consistency are maintained throughout DWP. This being recorded information, there is no reason why you should not provide it – I am NOT asking for a “discussion”.

To emphasise the point I made earlier, if you have not been provided in your training with this specific guidance and/or no such manuals exist, you must say exactly that – not try to sidestep the question by pretending the question is something it is not or suggesting that something does exist when it does not – to all intents and purposes, if you cannot prove something exists, by definition it does not.

Unfortunately, this online facility does not allow formatting of any kind, so I cannot highlight for you the questions in this reply as opposed to the observations.

A full history of my FOI request and all correspondence is available on the Internet at this address:
http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/be...

Yours faithfully,

J Newman

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

This is an automated confirmation that your request for information has
been received at the DWP Central FoI Team.

We will forward your request to the relevant information owner within the
Department who will respond to you direct. 

Should you also have any further queries in connection with this request
do please contact us.

For further information on the Freedom of Information Act within DWP
please click on the link below.

[1]http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

show quoted sections

References

Visible links
1. http://www.dwp.gov.uk/freedom-of-informa...

DWP Adelphi Freedom-of-Information-Request, Department for Work and Pensions

1 Attachment

Dear Mr Newman,

Please see attached response to your Internal Review request.

Kind regards,

DWP Central FoI Team

show quoted sections

J Newman left an annotation ()

By way of a closing comment, I need to go back to the questions with which it all started. They were prompted by the removal of any reference to bending or kneeling in the WCA from March 2011. DWP indicated this was justified based on independent research. This research only tackles the matter indirectly by examining industry compliance with equality legislation with regard to disability.

Firstly, it does no such thing, even pointing to areas where there has been reduced compliance in recent years. Secondly and ironically, the report beings with a DWP disclaimer – the view are those of the authors, not those of DWP – hardly encouraging and an indication of unequivocal commitment!

The FoI request was a parallel approach to establish what (if anything) DWP itself has done to reflect this assertion – surely they would be leading by example. Clearly they are not.

The only reasonable conclusion in the face of any evidence to the contrary is that the descriptor changes were made for other reasons, which one can only assume was to cynically cut points.
The fact that every warehouse, every self-service retail outlet and every office still stores at floor level, which can all be evidenced whereas DWP’s assertion cannot.

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