Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Virtual

Contact: Alexander Murray  Governance Officer

Items
No. Item

17.

TERMS OF REFERENCE MUNICIPAL YEAR 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 122 KB

To note the Terms of Reference of the Committee for the 2020/21 municipal year as agreed at the Annual Council meeting Wednesday, 25 November 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the Terms of Reference be noted.

18.

COMMITTEE MEMBERSHIP 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 104 KB

To note the Membership of the Committee for the 2020/21 municipal year as agreed at annual Council Wednesday 25 November 2020.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the membership of the Committee be noted.

19.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 206 KB

To receive and if so determined, to approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 September 2020.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting 8 September 2020 be agreed as an accurate record.

 

20.

QUESTIONS FROM THE PUBLIC

A maximum of 15 minutes will be allocated to public questions submitted in writing to Democratic Services (democratic.services@trafford.gov.uk) by 4 p.m. on the working day prior to the meeting. Questions must be relevant to items appearing on the agenda and will be submitted in the order in which they were received.

Minutes:

No questions were received.

21.

PUBLIC SECTOR EXIT CAP AND PENSION REFORM pdf icon PDF 257 KB

To receive a report from the Corporate Director of People.

Minutes:

The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources asked that this item be taken in conjunction with the voluntary workforce proposals as the two were intrinsically linked. The Committee were informed that legislation had been passed to implement an exit cap for public sector employees of £95,000.00 which came into effect from November 2020. The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence informed the Committee that there were two aspects that had affected the exit packages for public sector workers. The first was the exit cap which covered any settlement payments such as redundancy payments, voluntary severance payments, or pension strain costs. The required changes to the local government pension scheme regulations had not been updated prior to the legislation coming into force. This put a number of organisations into an intractable position where the new cap legislation violated the existing regulations on employee’s entitlements, which had led to some legal challenges. As Trafford was offering voluntary redundancy the changes had not impacted the Council greatly and work was ongoing to align policies to the new legislation requirements.

 

The second change was reform of public sector exit payments, which had a much wider impact than the exit pay cap. There were several changes as part of the reform that would impacted public sector employees, with the main change relating to employee’s access to their pension funds. In the current system employees over 55 who became redundant were able to claim both an unreduced pension and redundancy payment. Under the reformed rules the employee would have to choose one or the other but could not have both, although if their redundancy payment would have been greater than the strain costs then they would receive the difference. This would give employees several different options of what to do regarding their pension.

 

The consultation on the proposed changes was due to close on the 18th December 2020 and it was believed that the changes would come into effect in January 2021, although the timeline was not guaranteed. Communications were being sent to all staff regarding the changes as they became clear, with specific communications being sent to staff who had applied for the voluntary severance scheme. Once the reforms came into effect the Council would adjust all policies, including the pay policy statement, in line with the new position.

 

Following the overview Councillor Rigby asked whether a paper would come back to the Committee with the final recommendations once the new regulations were in place. The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence confirmed that a paper would come back to the Committee with the Council’s changes in response to the change in regulations.

 

RESOLVED:

1)    That the report be noted.

2)    That a report with final recommendations come to the Committee meeting 1st March 2021.

22.

VOLUNTARY WORKFORCE PROPOSALS pdf icon PDF 228 KB

To receive a report from the Corporate Director of People.

Minutes:

The Committee had received a report at their last meeting on the three voluntary schemes offered to staff as a result of changes in ways of working due to the COVID 19 pandemic.  The Head of Workforce and Core Strategy informed the Committee that the report that had been circulated with the agenda provided an update on each of those schemes. The voluntary severance scheme had been launched on the 11th September with an initial closing date of the 5th October. The original timeline had been aligned with the setting of the Council’s draft budget proposals for the year, however following feedback from staff the scheme had been extended. The extension took into account the changes to legislation and regulation reform and ensured there was enough time available for the Council to understand their impact and to communicate changes to staff.

 

Over 180 applications had been received and reviewed by heads of service, who made an initial recommendation. Of the 180 applications 43 had been recommended for release with an additional 30 under further consideration linked to service reviews. The 43 applications that had been recommended for release were due to go through the approvals process later in the week and approved applications would then be sent to the Chief Executive for final sign off.  All employees who had applied would be notified of the outcome by their manager once the process had been completed. Work would then commence to calculate the best solution for those individuals leaving the Council. Due to the new legislation and regulations HR were working closely with colleagues in Legal to ensure that all agreements aligned the changes.

 

The second scheme was the option to move to more flexible ways of working, including the nine day fortnight. Around 20 employees applied for the scheme and their applications were currently being processed.  The leave purchase scheme, where employees could buy between 1 and 10 days of additional leave, with the cost spread across the whole year, was ongoing and the scheme was due to close at the end of January. The Head of Workforce and Core Strategy concluded by stating that all three schemes had been designed to provide employees with options on how they wanted proceed following the pandemic and a further report on the outcomes would come to the committee 4th March 2021.

 

Following the update Councillor Acton asked whether there had been a target number of severances and whether that level had been met. The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources responded that there was a forecasted figure of around 100 employees so the 43 that were currently going through the approvals process was below the figure expected. However, following the announcement of the new regulations the Council would create a new offer in line with the changes and reopen the scheme to employees along with the other schemes.

 

Councillor Rigby noted that when there were a number of voluntary severances there was always the possibility of an increased demand  ...  view the full minutes text for item 22.

23.

AGENCY SPEND QUARTER 2 (JULY - SEPTEMBER 2020/21) pdf icon PDF 265 KB

To receive a report from the Corporate Director of People.

Minutes:

The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources introduced the report and informed the committee that the increase in agency spend had been identified as resulting from the impact of COVID 19. This was due increased absences requiring backfilled positions and reduced fluidity of the labour market. The Committee were assured that the levels of agency spend would continue to be monitored closely and reduced where possible.

 

The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence gave an overview of the report that had been circulated. There had been an increase of £170K compared to the previous quarter. There had been little to no increase across three of the Council’s directorates and the Adults directorate had seen a slight increase as had the Governance and Community Strategy directorate. The majority of the increase came from Children’s services due to pressures upon the directorate to meet statutory requirements.

 

Councillor Akinola asked how the Council were doing in terms of recruitment. The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources responded that there was still a lot of recruitment activity going on particularly in Children’ services with a number of vacancies within children’s social care. There were also a number of short term employment opportunities across the Council for positions related to the COVID response. Staff turnover had continued to be low and the Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources offered to provide a report showing the Council’s staff turnover and recruitment plans at the Committee’s next meeting.

 

Councillor Boyes asked what the proportion of workforce spending, by directorate, was on agency staff compared to staff with Council contracts and how did this compare to the previous year. The Head of Workforce and Core Strategy responded that they did not have that information to hand but that it would be brought back to the Committee for their next meeting.

 

RESOLVED:

1)    That the report be noted.

2)    That a report come to the Committee Meeting 1st March 2021 showing the Council’s staff turnover and recruitment plans.

3)    That the next report on agency spend include the proportion of workforce spending on agency staff compared to contracted staff.

24.

WORKFORCE UPDATE QUARTER 2 (JULY - SEPTEMBER 2020/21) pdf icon PDF 407 KB

To receive a presentation from the Corporate Director of People.

Minutes:

The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources took the opportunity to commend the Council’s workforce for their ongoing commitment to providing services to the residents of Trafford. In particular the HR and Health and Safety Teams for their dedication to ensuring the health, safety, and wellbeing of all Trafford Employees.

 

The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources then took the report that had been circulated as read and asked the Committee whether they had any questions. Councillor Thompson asked whether leisure employees had been redeployed or furloughed during the pandemic.  The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources responded that no members of Council staff had been furloughed during the pandemic as those who had been unable to perform their regular role had been redeployed.

 

RESOLVED: That the report be noted.

25.

ANNUAL LEAVE POLICY UPDATE - ANNUAL LEAVE BANKING SCHEME pdf icon PDF 300 KB

To receive a report from the Corporate Director of People.

Minutes:

The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence provided an overview of the report that had been circulated as part of the agenda pack.  The proposed leave banking scheme was being offered partly due to the pandemic, which had made it more difficult for staff to take their full allotment of leave for the year, but would also provide staff with a greater number of options and flexibility for using leave. Currently staff could carry leave forward to the next municipal year with the expectation that it would be used within the following twelve months. The leave banking scheme would allow staff to move up to 5 days leave to the bank per year up to a maximum of 20 days.

 

There were to be exceptions to the scheme such as if a member of staff had been on extended sick leave or maternity leave then they would be allowed to bank more than 5 days with director sign off. It was expected that there may be a number of exceptions this year due to the impact of COVID 19, although managers had been asked to encourage staff to take leave where possible. The scheme had already been made available to staff with their banked leave balance displayed within the MiTrent system.

 

Following the overview Councillor Acton asked how the Council were going to manage staff taking built up leave to ensure the smooth running of the organisation.  The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence responded that staff were encouraged to discuss plans for taking large amounts of leave with their manager as far in advance as possible to ensure it was taken at a time when the service would be able to cope.

 

Councillor Acton responded that there needed to be central control of the taking of how managers were administering the scheme. The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence responded that the Council had been looking to empower managers in order to run their respective teams and make those decisions but HR could pull data from the system to evaluate the taking of leave across the organisation, identify any patterns, and provide an overview to Corporate Directors. The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources agreed that this was something that the service would look into.

 

Councillor Cordingley asked how the scheme would work when employees left the Council to avoid making large payments for large amounts of untaken leave. The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources responded that the Council would look to facilitate employees taking any additional leave they had built up prior to them ending their employment rather than receiving payment for that leave.

 

RESOLVED:

1)    That the report be noted.

2)    That HR look at providing an overview of the impact of the scheme to Corporate Directors.

26.

QUARTERLY REPORT ON EXEMPTIONS TO THE SICKNESS POLICY

To consider an verbal report of the Corporate Director of People.

Minutes:

Four applications had been received during the period and all four had been agreed with no issues to be reported. Two of the applications had come from the Children’s Directorate, one from the Adults Directorate, and one from the Governance and Community Strategy Directorate.

 

REOLVED: That the update be noted.