Agenda and draft minutes

Employment Matters Committee - Tuesday, 11 August 2020 7.00pm

Venue: Virtual meeting

Contact: Michael Turner, Democratic Services Officer 

Media

Items
No. Item

163.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

There were none.

164.

Record of meeting pdf icon PDF 54 KB

To approve the record of the meeting held on 10 June 2020.

Minutes:

The record of the meeting of the Committee held on 10 June 2020 was agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman. 

165.

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. 

166.

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 a member of the GMB.

 

Councillor Prenter disclosed that he was a member of ASLEF but noted that this union had no dealings with the Council.

 

Councillor Hackwell disclosed that his wife worked on a part time basis for the Adult Education service in Medway.

 

167.

HR Response to Covid-19 pdf icon PDF 202 KB

This report provides information on the HR response to COVID-19.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered a report which outlined the key areas HR had responded to following the Covid-19 pandemic and explained the rationale for decisions made.

 

HR had responded at pace to a number of issues largely due to closure of services and a number of people unable to engage with their current work, or through health concerns associated with self-isolating or shielding. To ensure consistency, a consistent pay approach had been agreed across all contract types to help retain the workforce in preparation for either redeployment (where applicable) or recovery. This meant several policies had needed to be reviewed to support service delivery and employees.

 

In response to questions about the redeployment of staff and also virtual hearings, the Head of HR advised that any staff redeployed had been seconded to their new positions and the timing of when they would return to their substantive roles would depend on individual circumstances. So far, three remote hearings had taken place without any issues.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to note the report.

168.

Gender Pay Gap pdf icon PDF 151 KB

The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 requires all employers with more than 250 employees to report annually on their Gender Pay Gap. This report provides to the Committee with early insight into the Council’s results for this reporting year ahead of sharing the detail with the Trade Unions, employee forums and the newly formed Equality Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered a report which advised that the Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 required all employers with more than 250 employees to report annually on their Gender Pay Gap. The report provided an early insight into the Council’s results for this reporting year ahead of sharing the detail with the Trade Unions, employee forums and the newly formed Equality Board. The results would then be published on the Council’s public website by 31 March 2021 and on the Government dedicated Gender pay gap reporting website.

 

In discussing the report, Member appreciated that an earlier report was now being provided. Although the actions needed to close the gap were not included the newly created staff forums (including the new Gender Forum) would allow the Council to better understand the causes of the pay gap and identify the actions needed to close it.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to note the content of this report and agree that a more detailed update be provided in January 2021.

 

169.

Suicide Prevention in the Workplace Guidance pdf icon PDF 157 KB

This report sets out guidance on suicide prevention in the workplace.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered new guidance on suicide prevention in the workplaces  aimed at managers and employees look out for signs of suicidal ideation and helps sign post to additional resources.

 

Members welcomed the new guidance and the fact that the Council would be working with professional organisations on this issue.

 

Decision:

 

Members agreed to note the report.

170.

Organisational Change pdf icon PDF 200 KB

This report covers new reviews and transfers for the period 01 November 2019 to 30 June 2020.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered a report which covered new organisational reviews and the transfer of staff to and from other employers for the period 1 November 2019 to 30 June 2020.

 

The Head of HR advised that several reviews had been suspended due to Covid-19, which had been done in consultation with the affected staff. In response to a query about what would happen to suspended reviews if there was a second wave and also whether a deeper organisational change within the Council was needed as a result of Covid, the Head of HR replied that  lessons learned during the pandemic was being fed into reviews and if there was to be a second wave, then the same principles would be applied as in the initial outbreak. The current review of HR would influence how the Council would move forward.

 

Members queried the numbers of staff affected by the closure of the Splashes Sports Centre, how long the refurbishment would take and whether any staff would be eligible for voluntary redundancy. The Head of HR commented that she did not have the figures or the timetable for refurbishment readily available. She confirmed that the Council would first look to redeploy staff so that they could be retained in the Council, particularly given the costs of recruitment. If redeployment was not possible then the Council’s policy was to first look at whether voluntary redundancy was possible before compulsory redundancy.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to note the present position and the support arrangements for staff.

 

 

171.

Early Retirements and Severance Payments pdf icon PDF 108 KB

This report presents all decisions taken in relation to early retirements and severance payments for the period 1 September 2019 to 31 March 2020.

Minutes:

Discussion:

 

Members considered a report which set out all decisions taken in relation to early retirements and severance payments for the period 1 September 2019 to 31 March 2020.

 

In response to a query about a redundancy payment made where an individual’s fixed term contract had ended, the Head of HR advised that under employment law anyone employed for more than 2 years was entitled to receive a redundancy payment.

 

Members were advised, following a query, that the capitalised cost of a payment was an early retirement cost linked to the employee’s pension. This was not automatic and would depend on an individual’s circumstances.

 

Decision:

 

The Committee agreed to note the report.

 

172.

Exclusion of Press and Public pdf icon PDF 114 KB

This report summarises the content of the appendix to agenda item 9, which, in the opinion of the proper officer, contains exempt information within one of the categories in Schedule 12A of the Local Government Act 1972. It is a matter for the Committee to determine whether the press and public should be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the document.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee agreed to exclude the press and public during consideration of Appendix 1 to Agenda Item 9 because consideration of this matter in public would disclose information falling within one of the descriptions of exempt information contained paragraphs 1 and 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972 and also agreed that, in all the circumstances of the case, the public interest in maintaining the exemption, outweighed the public interest in disclosing the information.