Agenda and minutes

Employment Matters Committee - Wednesday, 1 September 2021 7.00pm

Venue: Civic Suite - Level 2, Gun Wharf, Dock Road, Chatham ME4 4TR. View directions

Contact: Michael Turner, Democratic Services Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

287.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

An apology for absence was received from Councillor Thompson.

288.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 63 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 1 June 2021.

Minutes:

The record of the meeting of the Committee held on 1 June 2021 was agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

 

289.

Urgent matters by reason of special circumstances

The Chairman will announce any late items which do not appear on the main agenda but which he/she has agreed should be considered by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the report.

Minutes:

There were none. 

290.

Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests and Other Significant Interests pdf icon PDF 371 KB

Members are invited to disclose any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Other Significant Interests in accordance with the Member Code of Conduct.  Guidance on this is set out in agenda item 4.

 

 

Minutes:

Disclosable pecuniary interests

 

There were none.

 

Other significant interests (OSIs)

 

There were none.

 

Other interests

 

Councillors Khan and Mahil disclosed that they were members of the GMB.

 

Councillor Prenter disclosed that he was a member of ASLEF.

 

Councillor Hackwell disclosed that his wife worked for the Council.

 

291.

Staff Survey Results pdf icon PDF 186 KB

This report provides the Committee with a breakdown of the most recent staff survey. 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered a report which provided a breakdown of the most recent staff survey.

 

The following issues were discussed:

 

·       Survey – the Head of HR clarified that 1,131 people had responded to the survey, which was just under 50% of the workforce. In terms of how to address the fact that some front-line staff did not feel the survey was relevant to them, the Head of HR advised that several drop-in sessions to share the survey findings had taken place, which had generated a lot of useful feedback. In addition, the Medway Makers were being relaunched as one way of better engaging with the workforce. This would allow a balanced representation across the whole council who could help make sure the questions in future surveys were relevant to everyone. In addition, paper copies of the survey had been made available, but none had been returned.

 

·       Issues identified by the survey  - in response to how any issues or concerns raised by the survey would be followed up, the Head of HR advised that all of these (including from the drop-in sessions) had been logged and a leadership programme was being developed to ensure managers had the tools needed to respond. An escalation route had been established to quickly resolve issues.

 

·       Performance management and productivity - how productivity was measured was questioned and Members were advised that HR was working with managers to help them how to manage remote teams. However, this would not be a case of employees’ activies being monitored in granular detail but rather regular check ins with staff with an emphasis on key milestones, effective communication and collaboration and clarity on how to escalate problems. The policies and guidance needed to support this were being developed. The Head of HR emphasised this new way of working was a significant cultural shift which would need to be embraced by everyone to be successful and would take time to fully embed.

 

·       Younger employees – concern was expressed about difficulties young people may face when learning on job and reduced access to mentors. Although none of the survey questions had been specifically aimed at younger members of staff, the drop-in sessions had revealed that some young people felt they were constantly at home, in some cases from shared bedrooms.

 

·       Training -  in terms of access to training when people were working from home, the Head of HR explained that much training was now online but if there was a need to come into the office for training then this would be expected of staff. 

 

·       Social isolation – in response to the survey finding that many people had experienced social isolation, the Head of HR commented this issue had been more prominent in the drop-in sessions. The Council was looking to create more outside spaces at Gun Wharf for people to socialise. Many teams had still socialised online during the pandemic. In addition, the Council’s Make a Difference awards event would take place in November.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 291.

292.

Our Ways of Working (Flexible Working) pdf icon PDF 220 KB

This report advised Members that the current suite of flexible working policies has recently been reviewed, updated, combined into one policy and rebranded as the Our Ways of Working Policy.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered a report which advised that the current suite of flexible working policies had recently been reviewed, updated, combined into one policy, and rebranded as the Our Ways of Working Policy and the proposed revisions had been consulted upon.

 

The following issues were discussed:

 

·       Public liability cover - the need for employees working at or from home to ensure that their home contents policy had public liability cover for at least one million pounds was questioned. Members were advised that this requirement was included in the current policy. Employees would still be covered by the Council’s public liability insurance policy but this provision had been retained in case of something unexpected happening. In terms of the importance of communicating this to staff, Members were advised that guidance would be produced on the practical arrangements of issues like this and there would be a one-page checklist for employees and managers. However, legal advice would be sought on whether this provision should be retained.

 

·       Insurance - it was noted that equipment securely stored in an individual employee’s home was covered by the Council’s insurance cover, but this cover did not extend whilst the equipment was in transit in the employee’s car. Members were advised that this provision was in the existing policy, but advice would be sought on the issue of employees commuting to work with council equipment.

 

·       Technology at home – whether the Council would pay for the cost of a Wi-Fi extender if connectivity was poor in an employee’s home was questioned. Members were advised staff would not be re-imbursed for this. Employees could still choose to come into the office to work unless they were required by their service to work from home.

 

·       Staff unable to work from home – noting there were no plans to revert to pre-pandemic working practices, how the Council intended to deal with staff who could not work from home and felt they were missing out on a benefit. Whether they should be compensated in some way was queried. Members were advised this was often a difficult area given the number of roles in the Council, but it was still possible to try and identify how flexible working could be successfully applied to these roles. The Council was looking at what changes in working conditions for front line staff could be made that would make a difference to them.

 

·       Requests for flexible working – whether this was still once a year opportunity which should be made clear in the policy was questioned.

 

·       Reasonable notice for meeting – reference was made to the requirement that employees working from home would be required to attend meetings and other office-based events as and when required (upon receipt of reasonable notice). It was suggested that some clarity be provided as to what was meant by reasonable.

 

·       Display Screen Equipment assessments – how these assessments, which looked at whether individuals intending to work from home had the ability to do so, were carried  ...  view the full minutes text for item 292.

293.

Equalities Board pdf icon PDF 186 KB

The report updates Members on the progress of the Equalities Board and associated staff networks.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered a report on the progress of the Equalities Board and associated staff networks.

 

It was suggested that the Equalities Board should look at the issue of blind recruitment and whether there should be a pilot on this. The Head of HR agreed to add this to the agenda for the meeting of the Board after the next scheduled one.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to note the report.