Joint Staff Consultative Committee Minutes

Wednesday, 25th March, 2015
Committee Room 1, Council Offices, Gernon Road, Letchworth Garden City

Attendance Details

Councillor Mrs A.G. Ashley (Chairman), Councillor Judi Billing, Councillor Mrs L.A. Needham, Debbie Ealand(Unison), Mrs D Levett (Unison) and C Corr (Staff Consultation Forum).
In attendance:
Corporate Human Resources Manager
Senior Human Resources and Contracts Manager
Committee and Member Services Officer
Item Description/Decision
The Strategic Director of Customer Services, John Robinson, and Cllrs Fiona Hill and Bernard Lovewell sent their apologies for absence.
It was agreed that the Minutes of the JSCC meeting held on 17 December 2014 be confirmed as a true record of the proceedings and be signed by the Chairman.
No other business was put forward for discussion at this Meeting.
The Chairman welcomed all Members and officers to the meeting.

She asked the Committee Clerk if she would start distribution of the Draft Minutes for comments two weeks from the Meeting date, and this was agreed.

She asked the Committee if the following statement could be taken as read, and they agreed to this:

‘Members were reminded that any declarations of interest in respect of any business set out in the agenda, should be declared as either a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest or Declarable Interest and they are required to notify the Chairman of the nature of any interest declared at the commencement of the relevant item on the agenda. Members declaring a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest must withdraw from the meeting for the duration of the item. Members declaring a Declarable Interest which requires they leave the room under Paragraph 7.4 of the Code of Conduct, can speak on the item, but must leave the room before the debate and vote.’
The Corporate Human Resources Manager (CHRM) referred the JSCC to the Minutes of the meetings of the Staff Consultation Forum (SCF) held on 7 January, 4 February and the draft Minutes of 4 March 2015, for details of the meetings, actions taken and the items carried forward.

The CHRM provided a summary of the main updates from each meeting as follows:

7 January 2015
Under Item 3 - HR Restructure, Vicky Jobling was introduced as the HR SCF representative during the HR Restructure consultation period. It was explained that this restructure had been needed for some time as the HR team had been trying to manage with vacancies due to some key staff turnover. The outsourcing of Payroll in 2014 and absences due to maternity leave.

The CHRM outlined the proposed HR restructure and discussion followed regarding the number of redundancies which would follow. She reiterated that consultation on the proposals was underway and would conclude at the end of January 2015, also advising that two new posts would be created and advertised internally and externally.

The Chief Executive confirmed that Hay would be evaluating and confirmed that Corporate Board had considered and agreed the proposal, deeming it the most appropriate method of evaluation.

Item 7 - Employee Issues raised the issue e-cigarettes no longer being allowed to be used on the 5th floor in the canteen, and it was confirmed that any “vaping” product containing nicotine could not be used in the District Council Offices.

The CHRM touched on the concerns raised by the Museum Team regarding: consultation meeting arrangements; and the possibility of staff being notified by email or by letters and the type of consultation to be used. She advised the Committee that HR were working with the Cultural Services Manager on the proposed restructure and informed them that the normal consultation process would apply as per the Reorganisation Policy. She confirmed that staff would be notified by letter to their home addresses and that as part of the consultation process, SCF would also be consulted on the proposal.

Claire Morgan had been nominated and confirmed as the Chairman of the next meeting of the Staff Consultation Forum.

4 February 2015
Item 3 - Under Museum Restructure, the CHRM went through the process currently taking place, and confirmed that the staffing would be put in place well before the opening of the North Hertfordshire Museum and Community Facility.

Under Item 4 - Green Issues, the Senior HR and Contracts Manager raised a query she had received from a staff member regarding car sharing and whether NHDC had plans to introduce this at Council. She confirmed that the scheme is still in operation and that the CHRM would review the car sharing scheme operated by Herts County Council and report back at a future meeting. The link was given.

Lastly, under Item 6 - Office Accommodation Update, the Committee were advised that two members of the SCF were on the Office Accommodation Project Board. Project Champions were required and more staff had become involved. The decant from DCO to Town Lodge was confirmed as due to take place in Spring 2016, with the return move being made during December 2016.

4 March 2015 - Draft Minutes
The CHRM referred to Item 3 - Allocation of Statutory Days 2015 and advised the Committee that the pattern of these would be the same as in 2009, where two half-days were allocated on Christmas Eve and New Years Eve.

Referring to Item 4 on Shared Fraud Investigations Services/Shared Anti-Fraud Services, the Committee were reminded that consultation on this transfer or resource in relation to NHDC to the DWP would commence shortly.

Under Item 6 - NHDC Update, the Chief Executive encouraged staff to come forward to assist with this year’s elections, especially as Presiding Officers. All staff wishing to take part would be given the relevant training.

Item 7 - Office Accommodation - it was pointed out that staff could expect to return to the refurbished Council Offices in December 2015 (which should be December 2016).

Finally, under Item 8 - Employee Queries, a query from a member of staff was raised regarding SAP and claiming expenses. Further details were required in order to solve this problem, and these would be furnished. The CHRM advised that further refresher workshops would be set up, including FAQs, system guides, champions and links.

It was agreed: That the information provided in the above sets of Minutes of the Staff Consultation Forum be noted.
The Corporate Human Resources Manager (CHRM) presented the Committee with the latest quarterly update on the progress made to the People Strategy 2011-2015 Report, which also incorporated the Council’s Workforce Development Plan.

She informed the Committee that the HR team was undergoing a restructure throughout a very busy period and that the aim was to retain valued staff and experienced HR professionals. She advised that during the next quarter, work was due to start on a refreshed People Strategy and Workforce Development Plan for the period from 2015 to 2020.

The CHRM went through the recent project highlights since the last meeting of the JSCC in December 2014. It was stressed that a number of complex departmental restructures had been supported by the HR team, helping with policy advice, consultation and any job evaluation or outplacement support required.

It was also pointed out that a review on the use of temporary agency workers at the Council had been carried out and that work was currently in progress to call off from a Framework Agreement with Hertfordshire County Council regarding procurement of the type and quality of worker needed at the Council at beneficial rates. A Member enquired whether it the original rates were a lot more and the Senior HR and Contracts Manager (SHRCM) explained that the hourly rate is actually lower, which is the best one for the Council’s requirements.

Moving on through the Appendices, the CHRM clarified that Long Term and Short Term on the Absence Rates table referred to days per person. She explained that the target was now for Short-Term absence only and that these figures were calculated on Full Time Equivalent.

It was agreed: That the progress against the People Strategy and HR People Strategy Work Plan for 2014/2015 be noted.

REASON FOR DECISION: To support the achievement of the Authority’s key priorities.
Pay Bargaining
The CHRM informed the Committee that the period covered for pay bargaining was 1 January 2015 to 31 March 2016.

The trade union was expected to submit a pay claim later in 2015, so no update would be given to pay bargaining at this time.

The next big change to pensions will be to the Retirement/State Pension, to be implemented in May 2016. The change will end the contracting out of National Insurance in April 2016. The result will be an increase for employers Class 1 contribution by 3.4% and for employees, the National Insurance Contribution (NIC) will increase by 1.4%.

The Senior HR and Contracts Manager (SHRCM) presented the Information Note on Retention and Equalities Update, which covers the latest position on turnover and staff retention and staff equalities data.

She explained that the Turnover Rates included the Voluntary Resignation figures, and stressed that the annual turnover for 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2014 was 12.58%, up from 1st January 2013 to 31 December 2013 which was 9.5%, but the previous year, 1 January 2012 to 31 December 2012 had been 14.35%.

The median average annual turnover rate for districts was 10.6%, and these figures were countrywide. The target figure was 9.8%.

The SHRCM then went through the Analysis of Leavers (62 staff had left NHDC between January and December 2014) and Reasons for Leaving (50% were resignations, down from last year, which was 52%). The comment was made that staff listed in this item had a good spread of ages, the largest group being in the under-25 age group. The leavers were then listed by Grade, and it was remarked that the apprentices (Grade 1) were only temporary. It was also noted that more men than women remained at North Hertfordshire District Council.

One Member asked whether the Council’s intake matched the pattern of staff being lost, and she was informed that the profile remains steady.

The SHRCM referred to the equalities data that the Council was required to publish annually on their website under the provisions of the Public Sector Equality Duty (section 149 of the Equality Act 2010). This covers analysis of recruitment, current staff, policies, learning and development, pregnancy and maternity, leavers and equal pay. Analysis is carried out by the protected characteristics of age, disability, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion, sex and sexual orientation. The data published can be found on the following link:

Finally, on the subject of Exit Questionnaires, enquiries were made as to whether there were any bullying or harassment claims and whether staff leaving cited job dissatisfaction as a reason for leaving, and was informed that some did, but they were just a small percentage.
The Senior HR and Contracts Manager (SHRCM) introduced the discussion paper and gave the background from the Chartered Institute of Personnel Development.

Central Government wanted to create a culture where both parents could care for their child and also return to work when they wished. The aim was to provide flexibility through the introduction of shared parental leave (SPL), with both leave and pay being agreed and shared between both mother and father. Both parents had to satisfy the relevant eligibility criteria.

Shared parental leave can only be taken until either the child’s first birthday or one year after the child was adopted. This is a new right and applies to all children born or adopted from 5 April 2015. The right to shared parental leave and pay is in addition to the right to take statutory maternity, adoption, ordinary paternity leave and parental leave. The right to take additional paternity leave is abolished.

The application process was extremely complex and could be off-putting. Mothers could not take SPL without ending Maternity Leave and this was flexible leave, but could cause problems for employers, as it could be difficult to accommodate.

Up to 50 weeks’ leave (SPL) and 37 weeks’ pay (ShPP) can be shared between parents if the mother/adopter brings their maternity/adoption leave and pay to an end early. Statutory shared parental pay will be paid at the rate of lower rate statutory maternity pay, with no higher rate, so it is advantageous to remain on maternity leave for at least the higher rate maternity pay period rather than taking shared parental leave at this time. Terms and conditions of employment during a period of shared parental leave have to mirror those applicable during maternity leave, i.e. continue in force, except in relation to pay.

The CHRM declared that NHDC Policy had been formulated through working groups comprising other local district authorities and Hertfordshire County Council. It was felt that this collaborative method was the way forward in the future and there was a lot of information to be found on this subject. It would be interesting to see how it worked out.

The Chairman commented that this subject could perhaps be revisited in a year’s time to review its efficacy.
After some discussion the Committee decided that the topic on Coaching would be chosen for the next meeting of the JSCC on 24 June 2015 and perhaps the topic on Social Media could be discussed in September 2015.
Published on Thursday, 16th April, 2015