Agenda and minutes

Human Resources Committee
Friday, 8th December, 2017 10.30 am

Venue: City Hall, College Green, Bristol, BS1 5TR

Contact: Steve Gregory  0117 92 24357

Items
No. Item

1.

Welcome, Introductions and Safety Information pdf icon PDF 92 KB

Minutes:

The Chair, Councillor Kye Dudd, welcomed all parties to the meeting.

 

The Committee noted that the Chair had recently been appointed to the Executive as Cabinet Member for Energy, Waste and Regulatory Services.

 

Councillor Richard Eddy pointed out that there could be potential conflicts of interest for the Chair in his current role as Chair of the Human Resources Committee and in his new capacity as an Executive Member. He suggested that he should consider whether or not it would be appropriate for him to stand down as Chair for this meeting and allow the Vice-Chair, Councillor Paula O’Rourke, to chair the meeting.

 

The Chair stated that he had taken advice from the Monitoring Officer following his  appointment who had advised him that it would not be inappropriate for him to continue to chair this meeting.

 

 

2.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

None

3.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

Councillor Jo Sergeant declared an interest in Agenda Item 12 (Avon Pension Fund) since the APF was part of the Brunel Pensions Partnership. She indicated that she was married to one of the Directors of this body.

4.

Public Forum

NB. up to 30 minutes is allowed for this item

 

Any member of the public or councillor may participate in Public Forum.  The detailed arrangements for so doing are set out in the Public Information Sheet at the back of this agenda.  Please note that the following deadlines will apply in relation to this meeting:-

 

Questions - Written questions must be received 3 clear working days prior to the meeting.  For this meeting, this means that your question(s) must be received in this office at the latest by5 pm on 4 December 2017.

 

Petitions and Statements - Petitions and statements must be received on the working day prior to the meeting.  For this meeting this means that your submission must be received in this office at the latest by 12.00 noon on 7 December 2017.

 

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted a Public Forum statement from Councillor Richard Eddy concerning alleged recent arrangements for the former Chief Executive, Anna Klonowski, to receive remuneration through a personal service company. Details of this statement are available in the Minute Book.

 

It was noted that the statement referred to questions asked by Councillor Geoff Gollop at Full Council on Tuesday 12th December 2017 which would be answered for that meeting. In addition, officers could reply directly to Councillor Eddy if appropriate.

 

Councillor Gary Hopkins also expressed concern that a similar situation might have arisen with another officer. The Chair asked that Councillor Hopkins write to him directly concerning this issue so that he could arrange for the matter to be investigated as appropriate. Action: Councillor Kye Dudd (Chair) in consultation with officers as appropriate

 

The Committee expressed concern about this situation and noted that it was unacceptable if this had happened. It was the view of the Committee that payments to personal service companies should only be permitted for very short-term contracts and that in all other instances agency/interim staff should be employed on Council contracts and paid via the Council’s payroll. Action: A report to be prepared for the Committee on the contractual arrangements for agency/interim staff – Mark Jefferson

 

 

5.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 204 KB

To agree the minutes of the last meeting as a correct record.

Minutes:

Councillor Paula O’Rourke indicated that there were a number of points which she felt had not been properly incorporated into these minutes.

 

The Committee agreed that these should be incorporated into the minutes for 19th October minutes to be approved as a correct record at the next meeting.

6.

Chair's Business

To receive any announcements from the Chair.

Minutes:

There was no Chair’s business.

7.

Better Jobs for all Bristol - presentation by Ines Lage Southwest TUC

Minutes:

Ines Lage (TUC in South West) gave a presentation and made the following points:

 

·         The TUC had a Plan for Bristol to ensure all workers were paid fairly, worked in a safe and healthy workplace and were treated fairly and decently with an opportunity to progress in their work

·         When taken as a city, rather than a region, there was significant inequality in Bristol. It was ranked the seventh out of 348 Local Authorities in terms of BME inequality and the worst of all the Core Cities. There was also inequality in education and mortality rates and significant in-work poverty

·         Multiple deprivation was worse regionally than nationally

·         Productivity was flat lining, wage growth was the worst since the 19th Century and there had been a marked shift towards insecure employment, including zero hour contracts

·         Following an assessment of 100 firms by size and “anchorage” in communities, some of the larger law firms were not paying a fair wage

·         24% of work was low skill, low wage (care, sales, elementary occupations) which was likely to reduce in future. In addition, one third did not hold the minimum employer requirement

·         The responsibility for adult skills rests with the Metro Mayor. It was unclear what future role in this area they would have.

·         There was a need for local politicians and political parties to work together to tackle key issues (eg employers not paying the minimum wage)

·         The Modern Slavery Act was very weak with little enforcement

·         Mental Health at work. Stress remained the top concern for Health and Safety representatives in the south west. Thrive Bristol – this model was being developed along the lines of New York to identify where poor practices are leading to poor mental health

·         Employment Charter – the development of this would require significant leadership and would be very resource-intensive, though it would  set a baseline of values

 

In response to Councillors’ questions, Ines Lage made the following points:

 

·         It was disappointing to see the opposition to the Nail Bar campaign. Agency and app working were creating some additional problems, although Trade Unions were using social media to address this (for example with delivery cyclist in London)

·         In Bristol, house prices are 11.8 times the median average salary (as opposed to 6/7 times which was the average across the country). More affordable housing was required, better regulation of rent control and increased pay

·         In obtaining this information, trade unions had spoken to local advice centres, employers and other groups to capture data. However, it was more important to hear what people were telling them

·         Concerns about the appropriateness of having the same minimum wage across the country and a greater emphasis on quality of life and mental health were noted. However, there was no longer a stream of progression within Companies for staff to progress and earn more

8.

Standing item - Training and Development issues for staff

Minutes:

There was nothing to report for this item.

9.

Standing Item - Industrial Relations Issues

Minutes:

There was nothing to report for this item.

10.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 38 KB

To note the work programme.

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Work Programme.

 

Councillor Paula O’Rourke referred to a report prepared in 2017 concerning benchmarking information on the size and cost of the Council’s HR function which indicated that this was below the median. She suggested that a report to examine the impact of this situation on future savings was required.

 

Action: To be added to the Work Programme for a future meeting

11.

Workforce Policy & Conditions Review - update pdf icon PDF 168 KB

Minutes:

Officers confirmed that appropriate actions were being taken across the Council to ensure the required savings were made.

 

It was noted that revised redundancy and pay protection schemes were being prepared and that Trade Unions would be consulting on these in the near future. It was Council policy to retain staff wherever possible. In addition, tighter controls were being brought in concerning interim managers and consultants.

 

As part of the budget savings, staff would be encouraged to consider other forms of transport, such as pool cars. The mileage rates being paid by the Council were similar to other organisations and there were no plans to reduce these.

 

In response to Councillors’ questions, officers made the following points:

 

(1)   The Annual Leave Top-Up scheme was discretionary but supported by the Council and part-time work was encouraged where requested by staff (subject to service delivery implications)

(2)   It was acknowledged that there were some occasions when a strict interpretation of travel policy was a false economy if it meant staff were more tired and less enthusiastic concerning their work. However, there were alternative options now available for staff, such as flexible working arrangements following recent developments in IT

(3)   The concerns about staff located in B Bond Warehouse were noted.  

 

12.

Avon Pension Fund - information item pdf icon PDF 2 MB

Minutes:

Councillor Steve Pearce (Avon County Council’s representative on the Avon Pension Fund) introduced this item and made the following points:

 

·         The assets of the Avon Pension Fund (APF) had increased by £615 Million to £4.3 Billion

·         There had been significant rise in equity markets and further falls in EU Bond yields following the EU Referendum

·         The Government had announced in 2010 pooling arrangements to reduce costs but, whilst savings had been made, these were not as dramatic as originally anticipated

·         Currently, 98% of the APF was self-funded

·         The APF has 12 voting members with one from Bristol – BANES had the largest number (5) since they were the administering Local Authority

·         The investment strategy was determined by investment principles. The fund was a signatory to the financial reporting Councils’ UK Stewardship Code

·         There were a total of 305 companies, with 107,000 members in total. There was some concern about the very small size of some participating employers

·         The fund was a member of the Pension Fund Forum which met quarterly

·         The objective of the APF was not to maximise returns but to achieve an investment return to fund the pension liability

·         3,000 resolutions had been approved by external fund managers in the last quarter, whilst 85 had been refused

·         The scheme’s approach was to continue to remain engaged with companies where there were concerns about the way they operated in order to influence their approach, rather than not continuing with them ie TOTAL (France) had moves slightly way from their use of fossil fuels recently from 50/50 to 40/60

 

In response to Councillors’ questions, Councillor Pearce made the following points:

 

·         The situation with APF had greatly improved and was now close to being fully funded. Members of the APF would be working to ensure the recent gains were fully locked in

·         It would be appropriate for employers to contribute a little less. He would shortly be recommending to the Mayor to engage with the Pension Fund Committee to reduce BCC’s contributions at the next valuation

·         Whilst it was acknowledged that deferred membership was now at 25% which could cause a strain on the APF, deferred members did not accrue additional benefits

·         There had been a significant change in asset type over the years with an increased allocation towards those companies promoting renewables and to those who were less damaging to the environment

·         In response to concerns that there continued to be engagement with companies such as TOTAL rather than companies adopting a pragmatic approach and promoting clean energies, investment in this area was now at 2.5% which was £100 Million

 

Councillors also made the following points:

 

·         There were concerns that the wording in the investment policy was too woolly and that a conscious approach was required to take decisions for ethical reasons rather than financial;

·         Whilst it was not the APF’s responsibility to have detailed knowledge of all those organisations listed in the report as being members, it remained a concern that there were such a large number

·         The Chair  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

HR Corporate dashboard - information item pdf icon PDF 205 KB

Minutes:

The Committee noted that workforce FTE and the head count for BCC were now reduced, with turnover having fallen from 21% to 19.7%. However, the average number of sick days had increased to 9 days in Quarter 2.

 

Councillors made the following comments:

 

·         The increase in the average number of sick days was a cause for concern, especially since the average in the country was much lower (6.9).

·          It was noted that, due to the type of work carried out by some frontline staff, a disproportionate number of staff suffered from physical injuries

 

Action: Officers to provide a written response to the query regarding why workforce spend had reduced – Mark Jefferson

14.

Exclusion of the Press and Public

That under s.100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that it (they) involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph(s) 1 (respectively) of Part 1 of schedule 12A of the Act.

Minutes:

Resolved - that under s.100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public be excluded from the meeting for the following item(s) of business on the grounds that it (they) involve(s) the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph(s) 1 (respectively) of Part 1 of schedule 12A of the Act.

15.

Exempt report - Senior Management re-structure

Exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 - Information relating to any individual.

 

Report(s) to follow

Minutes:

(containing exempt information in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of Section 100 (4) of the Local Government Act 1972)

 

The Committee considered a report from the Interim Service Director (HR and Workforce) requesting voluntary severance for the Service Director (Housing Services) with effect from 31st December.

 

It was noted that the current occupant of this post worked on a job share basis and for health reasons did not believe that she could carry out the job on a full-time basis. It was further noted that the job share partner had already left the organisation. Officers did not believe that it would be possible to recruit to this post on a job share basis.

 

Councillor Paula O’Rourke expressed concern at officers’ advice on this issue and stated that attempts should first be made to appoint someone part-time to the post before voluntary severance was approved by the Committee. Officers reiterated their view that it would be very difficult to appoint part-time to the post.

Councillor Eddy moved, seconded by Councillor Jo Sergeant and, upon being put to the vote, it was RESOLVED (5 for, 1 against, 1 abstention) “ that the voluntary redundancy of the Service Director (Housing Services) be approved with effect from 31st December 2017.”

 

The Committee considered a recommendation from officers for voluntary redundancy for the Service Director (Strategic – Housing) to take voluntary redundancy with effect from 31st December 2017. The Committee’s legal adviser confirmed that, since this had been agreed as part of a voluntary severance exercise, there was a binding contractual commitment in place.

 

Councillors expressed concern that Councillors had not been made aware of the contractual arrangements in this case. Councillor Gary Hopkins stated that he had been made aware of a similar situation for another former employee and requested that officers investigate this and report back to the Committee at a future date.

 

Action: Mark Williams to report back to Committee at a future date

 

It was moved, seconded and, upon being put to the vote, it was RESOLVED (Voting – 5 for, 1 against, 1 abstention) “that the Committee notes the voluntary redundancy of the Service Director Strategic Housing with effect from 31st December 2017, which was agreed as part of the 2016/17 voluntary severance exercise”.

 

The Committee then considered arrangements for the ring-fence selection process where existing job holders were required to attend an interview.

 

The Committee expressed concerns that, in addition to the Interim Head of Paid Service and member of the Executive, the third member of the Panel should be a Councillor from an opposition party to the Executive.

It was RESOLVED (Voting – 6 for, 1 abstention) “that where existing job holders are required to attend an interview as part of the ring-fence selection process, the panel members will be the Interim Head of Paid Service, a member of the Executive and a Councillor from an opposition party to the Executive”. The Committee noted that this resolution was subject to the Selection  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.

15a

Agenda Item 15A - Pay Reform

Minutes:

This report contains exempt information in accordance with paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972.

 

Officers stressed the need to address the issue of recruitment and retention of staff. It was noted that a great deal of work had been carried out concerning this issue with the trade unions.

 

The Committee was advised that the employers had recently offered 2% for 2018/19 and also for 2019/20. Officers had drawn up local options, with a view to introducing pay reforms in April 2019. The primary concerns on this issue related to cost.

 

Resolved – that the report be noted.

16.

Exempt Minutes - 28 September 2017

Exempt information as defined in paragraph 1 - Information relating to any individual.

 

Minutes:

Resolved – that the minutes for this meeting be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair, including the proposed amendments from Councillor Gary Hopkins.