Contact Officer: Anne-Marie Scott
The report provides an update on the council’s non-permanent staffing arrangements, including temporary workers supplied by an agency, whether under the Matrix contract or outside of it, and independent interims and consultants which the council contracts with for additional expertise and capacity.
The Interim HR and Organisational Development Project Manager presented the Non-Permanent Staffing Report. The report stated that at times the Council required temporary resources including agency workers, interims and consultants to deliver projects and deal with peaks in workload as well as provide specialist skills or advice on an ad hoc basis.
Monitoring of such staff is undertaken via contract, IR35 regulations and the agency workers’ directive.
Cllr Rowland, as Head of HR committee was invited to speak. Cllr Rowland expressed surprise at the number of interims in post throughout the organisation and commented that the impact on permanent staff could be quite unsettling and potentially detrimental to performance. Further surprise was expressed at the cost to the council. It was suggested that the council focus on more long term commitment to recruitment.
The Chair noted that constitutional changes passed by council in the preceding year, had excluded involvement by the HR committee in relation to any interim appointments. As a member of the Constitutional Working Party he commented that he intended to lobby for an amendment to the constitution to ensure future involvement.
The committee welcomed the report and made the following comments and further requests for information: -
· It was suggested that report item 10.4.2 should be the most important strategy for the council to adopt and develop.
The Interim HR and Organisational Development Project Manager commented that a project to review pay, benefits, grading and flexible working to ensure sector competitiveness had been scoped and agreed by SLT.
Further, a commitment to the strategy in relation to digitalisation and agile working projects was currently in progress to develop how the organisation would look in 5 years and ensure that the workforce would be fully supported to achieve the vision.
· Concern was expressed in relation to use of the term ‘approximately’ in item 2.2.
It was explained that whilst interim staff contracts were managed centrally, consultancy services were commissioned and invoiced as necessary by individual departments and would potentially be coded differently. Three different systems (procurement, payroll and matrix contract management), monitored and processed the different services which could occasionally lead to inaccuracies in actual spend throughout the year, but would result in a defined year end figure.
· It was explained that central government held a formal Shortage Occupation List and that accountancy and planning both featured which affected the public sector as a whole.
· It was clarified that in the past 3 years the council had spent approximately £7 million on specialist advice and consultancy fees, and £3 million on agency fees.
It was suggested that it would be useful to compare the total amounts with benchmark figures. It was explained that to do so would require clear definition and parameters for a benchmark with which to compare.
It was suggested and agreed that HR committee take this matter forward.
· It was agreed that a comparison between the agency and interim costs detailed in Appendix 1 as opposed to established costs be provided for the committee. It was noted that whilst established positions would be accurate actual costs, non-establishment positions would be quantified on the basis of accepted industry norms.
· Concern was voiced by the Chair of the HR Committee that the recent appointment to the position of Interim Executive of Borough Development and Deputy Chief Executive could potentially result in a year’s employment, given that advice had been received that recruitment for the permanent position could not commence until after the May elections to allow for full council ratification.
· In response to a query, it was explained that the council had just completed an organisation wide staff engagement survey, and was in the process of analysing the results. It was also stated that a review of exit interviews was being undertaken. This was perceived to be a major area that required revision and improvement.
Resolved: The Committee
· Note the report; and
· Request that the above actions be undertaken and delivered.