Meeting documents

Personnel Partnership

Committee Minutes

Wed Jan 20 2010

Related Documents:
agenda for these minutes

20 January 2010


Councillors Hart (Chairman), Greenslade, Haywood, Leadbetter, Moulding and Owen

Mrs Andrews, Mr Houghton, Ms Roberts, Mr Ryles and Mr Turner

Non-voting members:-

Mr Jones (Director of Employment Strategy), Mrs Rogers (Joint Secretary Management Side) and Ms French (Unison)

PP/5 Minutes

AGREED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 22 July 2009 be signed as a correct record.

PP/6 Personnel Partnership Constitution

The Chairman reported that the lead officer role for the Personnel Partnership had now passed from Mrs Heather Barnes, Deputy Chief Executive to Mr Paul Jones as Director of Employment Strategy.

AGREED that the Personnel Partnership Constitution be revised accordingly to reflect the change in lead officer responsibility, ie at paragraph 3.2 (Non voting members) with the deletion of Executive Director of Corporate Resources.

PP/7 Budget 2010/11

The Staff Side reported their concerns at the degree of likely budget efficiencies reducing support to essential front line services and that a lot of these services could not function satisfactorily without support staff. This would be discussed further at the budget consultation meeting tomorrow.

Whilst noting the Staff Side s concerns the Chairman reported that a 4% reduction was anticipated from government.

PP/8 Employment Strategy

The Staff Side reported their concerns at the content of the proposed Employment Strategy of lowering grades of posts through a review of job descriptions, when only very recently this had been considered across the authority in the Job Evaluation process, with staff now rewarded fairly and providing a very good service on behalf of the authority. There was concern with 70% workforce being female staff that matters such as equal pay could be an issue. Staff Side were concerned that should there be a de-skilling process of large numbers of staff, training budgets to retrain may well be affected when further efficiencies needed to be made. The unions would be seeking a retraining package for any staff affected.

The Director explained that the Employment Strategy plan was over 4 years and the concerns raised related to the 1st year, on which the authority was committed to full consultation. However the full impact of the downturn in the economy was likely to still be felt by local government and so vacancy management and looking at other elements of the authority s service that may be able to be redesigned to provide in other ways formed part of the 1st year plan. A working group would be considering the Employment Strategy on 2 February 2010 including a training development package for the retention of staff. Members wished to have sight of the report when available.

A view from a member of the Employers Side was that the Job Evaluation process had been very thorough and it was recognised there had been good joint working to see this to its fruition in the best way possible. There was concern that the good work achieved with JE (which was still in its transition period) should not be unhinged by any subsequent review.

AGREED that the concerns expressed above be noted and a copy of the report being made to the Corporate Employment Strategy Working Group on 2 February 2010 be circulated to all members of the Personnel Partnership.

PP/9 Future Plans for the Atkinson Unit

(Councillor Leadbetter declared a personal interest by virtue of his family involvement with the Atkinson Unit and withdrew from the meeting for this item).

The Staff Side referred to the restructuring taking place to ensure the financial security of the Unit and that its future was to be reviewed annually in future. There was some pressure on staff regarding the three week rota but it was hoped this would be resolved shortly with management. All staff were to be commended for the continuation of their professional service at a time of extreme pressure.

The restructuring and resulting increased demand and waiting list for beds and better financial position of the Unit was welcomed and it was hoped that the number of beds might be increased in the future.

AGREED that an annual report reviewing the role of the Atkinson Unit each financial year be made to future January meetings of the Personnel Partnership.

PP/10 Corporate Grievance Policy Procedure: Hearing of Grievance Appeals by Members

The Staff Side raised this matter and the Partnership considered:- (a) a report by HR on a proposal to move the hearing of grievance appeals from members to chief officers and (b) a report of the Staff Side on the right of grievance appeals to elected members. Dismissal appeals would continue to have a right of appeal to members through the Personnel Panel.

In relation to the HR report it was proposed as part of the new strategic plan to strive towards speeding up decision making, delivery and efficiency wherever possible. The proposal aimed:- to modernise and improve the corporate grievance policy, operating within DCC s own prescribed timescales; make managers more accountable for decision making; to benefit from significant savings in member costs and time associated with attending Personnel Panel Appeal Hearings; release members from grievance appeals to carry out other council business. There had been a significant increase in the number of grievance appeal hearings in view of JE appeals and employees becoming more litigious. There had been some delay in arranging hearings, in part given the county council elections and subsequent change in membership of the Personnel Panel with new members requiring training. It was likely that the numbers of grievances would continue to increase. The practice of other south west authorities showed that 7 authorities now operated chief officer grievance appeals (2 of which gave an additional appeal to members in some/exceptional cases only) and 2 authorities operated member grievance appeals.

A member of the Employers Side outlined the difficulties experienced by members in programming dates in members diaries and regular postponement/cancellation of hearings at short notice as negotiations continued.

The Partnership also considered the report of the Staff Side recommending the retention of the employees right of grievance appeal to elected members, giving several reasons for this (including an established procedure serving the needs of both parties; fairness and independence; mitigating cases to Employment Tribunals; stability and continuity at times of budget driven changes to staff terms and conditions). The report also addressed cost savings and benefits in mitigating appeals progressing to costly Employment Tribunals; staff motivation and trust; resources committed; non compliance of procedure timescales and the increase in the number of appeals. The Staff Side added:- that it was very important to employees to have someone not involved in previous discussions considering their grievance; it was felt that the number of grievances over the last 12 months was not representative given the number of Job Evaluation cases and reasons for delay in bringing cases to appeal. Staff Side had balloted its membership 18 months ago on retaining the right of grievance appeals to elected members when 75% responses supported this and this issue had not been discussed with management since. The Trade Unions would also welcome the intention to encourage more pro-active management of issues to reduce grievances and to sharpen up the current system.

The Employers Side suggested a 2 year trial of Chief Officers hearing grievance appeals, subject to a referral to the Personnel Partnership by the Director of Employment Strategy and Chief Officer of a particular case in exceptional circumstances where there was an issue of strategic importance or a complex case that could not be resolved. The Staff Side however did not feel able to agree to this. Both sides however would support the current system being refined so that appeals were arranged more quickly and to avoid ongoing changes to dates.

There were adjournments for both sides to reconsider their positions so that an agreement could be reached.


(a) that a joint report be made to the April meeting of the Personnel Partnership to streamline the current grievance appeal process and to shorten timescales;

(b) that a working group be established to consider this, to include an elected member;

(c) that the joint secretaries of the Management and Staff Sides discuss how best meetings could be planned and arranged and consider facility time;

(d) that any current appeals to elected members in progress be carried out in line with existing grievance appeal policy.

PP/11 Residential Restructure

The Staff Side expressed concern that new staff resulting from the restructure had not been offered a reasonable alternative (eg reduction in hours from 37 to 20) and Staff Side wanted a practical redundancy/compensatory package. This view would be submitted as part of the 90 day consultation to 19 February 2010 but there was concern that this would not be accepted.

The Director undertook to talk with Jacky Wilson within his directorate should there be an impasse at the end of the consultation period.


(a) that the views of the Staff Side be noted and that these would form part of their formal response to the Residential Restructure consultation;

(b) that any further reports be circulated to members of the Personnel Partnership.

PP/12 Dates of Future Meetings

W 28 April 2010

Th 21 October 2010

Th 20 January 2011

to commence at 10.30am (Management briefing at 10am).

The meeting started at 10.30am and finished at 11.45am

The Minutes of this Committee are published on the County Council's Website at:-

Date Published: Fri Jan 29 2010