The Corporate Director of Strategy and Resources introduced the report which followed on from the reports in September and December concerning proposals to offer staff more agile working arrangements and allow the Council to generate savings. Three options were made available to staff members which were; voluntary severance, a nine day working fortnight, and a leave purchasing scheme. The three schemes closed in October 2020 and the Council were poised to enact the outcomes.
The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence informed the Committee that there had been one hundred and ninety six applications for voluntary severance of which forty two had release agreed. Of those twenty two elected to leave in March and twenty elected to leave in September. A further thirty one applications had the decision deferred as the decisions panel felt that they were not in a position to confirm release at that time, but there was potential for those staff members to be released in the future. The positions of those thirty one staff would continue to be monitored in light of changes throughout the organisation and release those staff if it became feasible to do so. Since it was agreed to defer the thirty one applications four had been agreed and the staff would be leaving at the end of March. The remaining applications were declined or withdrawn and all staff who applied received notification of the outcome in December through a meeting with their line manager and a formal letter.
It had been expected that pension reform would be in place in January or February 2021 and impact those who left in March. However, the legislation was revoked in February 2021 and so the exit pay cap did not come in which meant there were no restrictions on the amount someone could receive upon leaving employment in the public sector. Another consequence was that the pension reform proposals had not been progressed, although it was believed that these would be looked at again in the future. This meant staff who were due to leave as part of the voluntary severance scheme would receive unreduced access to their pension. HR would continue to monitor the situation regarding a future pay cap and pension reform.
The flexible working scheme had seven applications agreed and a further nine were ongoing. The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence informed the Committee that staff could apply for flexible working arrangements at any point in time so staff who did not apply during the scheme still had the option available to them.
The voluntary leave scheme had two hundred and forty four employees purchase leave at an average of six days per employee. Overall it was a decrease on the amount of voluntary leave bought in the previous year, but this had been expected due to a decrease in people taking leave and an increase in staff banking leave.
Following the update Councillor Thompson asked how the people who applied for voluntary severance were spread across the directorates and whether the numbers applying raised any concerns. The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence responded that applications had been received from across all areas of the Council and there had not been any cause for concern.
Councillor Boyes asked whether there would be any increased contributions that the Council would have to pay following the delay in pension reform. The Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence responded that they were not aware of any additional payments required but would check with finance.
1) That the report be noted.
2) That the Strategic HR Lead Policy, Reward and Intelligence check whether the Council are required to make any additional payments due to the delay in pension reform.