Venue: Conference Room 1 - The Forum. View directions
Contact: Michelle Anderson
Apologies for absence
To receive any apologies for absence
To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting
The notes of the meeting held on 26 June 2017 were agreed by the members present and signed by the Chairman.
To discuss any matters arising from the previous meeting
Cllr Chapman proposed bringing item 7 forward, which was agreed by the Committee. Cllr Chapman introduced the item, which were the proposed changes to Dacorum Borough Council’s (DBC) employee Terms & Conditions (T&C’s). He invited the Trade Union (TU) Representatives to submit their case. N Cooke said that as set out in the letter to the Chief Executive (CEO), the TU considered that DBC were in breach of their own procedures, and that because of this, the changes were null and void.
N Cooke said that the TU had been engaged in negotiations with the Senior Management Team (SMT) for some time. He said there had been three/four meetings, which had been very pragmatic and the TU understood the rationalisation, and had accepted the majority of the changes. However, he said that they had consistently taken issue with the proposed changes to the redundancy rate. N Cooke said that throughout the process, they had tried to resolve this matter without going into dispute (e.g., mediation with ACAS, Joint Secretaries, or Local Employers Association). N Cooke said that at the last meeting, which was meant to be about the new Sickness Absence policy, they were told that DBC were going ahead with the changes. He said that at this point, he immediately wrote to the CEO, and went into dispute with the Council. He said that at this point, the status quo should prevail – and that at this time, this proposal should have been referred to the JNC. This was not done. Instead, he said, he received a letter from the CEO saying that this matter had been ratified. N Cooke said he believed that DBC had missed one of their own steps and that the decision should have been taken to the JNC, as elected members for consideration and resolution. N Cooke asked if the CEO had the right to disregard the TU’s dispute letter and go straight to Council, without bringing it to the JNC.
M Brookes offered a comment to the Chairman on a point of procedure; he said that a letter addressing the points raised by N Cooke had already been sent by Sally Marshall, CEO. He said that it was not for the committee to look at the procedure that was followed, but instead whether the management’s decision was appropriate; specifically the changes to the redundancy rate. N Cooke disagreed with this submission and said that the Committee had a right to decide whether the Council had followed the correct procedure. He asked what was the point of the JNC, if such a significant matter was not considered. Although he accepted that the decision of the Committee would not necessarily be binding, it could not simply be arbitrarily missed by the CEO.
Cllr Taylor asked M Brookes if N Cooke’s understanding of the Committee was not quite correct; he said that although the Committee would discuss items that were brought before it, such as this matter, however it was Cabinet that would make the ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
Cllr Chapman invited N Cooke to introduce this item. N Cooke said that he was looking for DBC’s support to lift the Public Sector pay cap. He said that staff had effectively had a pay cut for the last eight years, when taking inflation into account. A Stunell said that on attending various HR events, it was her understanding that a decision would be made on this matter following the Chancellor’s Budget in November. N Cooke said that they were asking Government to provide Local Authorities with more funding to finance this pay increase, but were looking for a statement of support.
Cllr C Wyatt-Lowe said that she would prefer to support a motion at the Local Government Association (LGA), rather than an individual council, given its collective weight. Cllr Taylor echoed this. Cllr Chapman suggested that this be looked at in more detail following the autumn budget. This was agreed by the Committee.
Health and Safety - update
A verbal update will be given at the meeting
P O’Day updated the Committee on the Health & Safety issues facing the Council. He said that work was continuing in the following 12 work streams:
P O’Day said that devices had been issued, and Suzy Lampugh and Reliance training delivered. Top-up personal safety training was being delivered throughout October and November
P O’Day said work was continuing on repairing the structures, replacing rotten timber and putting in extra bracing where needed.
Vehicle Repair Workshop (VRS)
P O’Day said there had been a large clear out of redundant equipment. He said Simon J Smith has drafted new Transport Health & Safety Policy and risk assessments. This service has been neglected of late with staff working overtime and using contract staff on-loan from Luton.
P O’Day told the Committee that the new ‘noise at work’ policy had been drafted and approved by H&S Committee which will now go to the CMT on 7 November.
He said more observations were needed on waste operatives as the results of the initial survey seem to contradict working practices.
He said that the Hearing Action zone was to be declared in the waste transfer station; signage was being erected, and hearing protection was to be issued to all that enter the area.
P O’Day said most of CSG equipment has been assessed, some (mostly the newer items) need to be assessed to see effectiveness of the hearing protection. Equipment noise (xdB) less the hearing protection (ydB) plus real life factor (4dB) should provide a result of less than 80dB. If between 80dB (lower action level) and 85dB (upper action level) then the time the equipment is used will need to be restricted.
He confirmed that OTH sound absorbing foam panels were to be installed in the technicians booth.
Whole Body Vibration
P O’Day said that the new ‘whole body vibration’ policy drafted and approved by H&S Committee which also go to the CMT on 7 November.
P O’Day confirmed that provided the equipment is used as observed (including a 20% margin of error) then the action levels will not be exceeded.
P O’Day said that on occasions, the Ransomes and Kubota (ride-on mowers) could exceed the lower action levels but the tracking devices at the moment only inform when the machines are used (it did not distinguish between idle and being operated). Because of this, Simon Coultas is in the process of sourcing more sophisticated software so that DBC could effectively monitor the vibration.
P O’Day told the Committee that work was progressing on this especially with regard to CDM projects. David Barrett (GM Housing), is now having H&S audits of projects under his remit.
Training: (P O’Day said that the following was taking place at Cupids Green and The Forum in October and November)
Awareness of Health & Safety Risk Assessments
Introduction to Manual Handling
Legionella Awareness Training
P O’Day said that in addition ... view the full minutes text for item 20.
HR - update
A verbal update will be given at the meeting
A Stunell updated the Committee on the various aspects of the ongoing People Strategy.
Apprenticeship Levy Board.
A Stunell said that the Board was currently meeting every month (with a view to meet every quarter) to discuss how the budget (£37K) was being spent. She said that an apprentice had recently started in the HR dept, and was completing an HR qualification. A Stunell explained that one of the issues facing the Board was that apprenticeship qualifications were either not established, or very expensive( e.g, a Management qualification within the apprenticeship levy was £3k, while a recognised professional qualification was £800).She also added that there were some issues regarding the desirability of the Housing apprenticeship qualification, in comparison to its professional equivalent (CiH qualification)
A Stunell said that they were mapping to see what qualifications DBC most needed. She also said that DBC were currently in a procurement exercise with Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) which should make this process easier. A Stunell said that the apprenticeship levy was now part of Group Managers management budget – they needed to balance this budget against other staff training (including mandatory requirements. In response to query from Cllr Chapman, A Stunell confirmed that DBC would be actively encouraging apprentices to stay with the Council, to regain these developed skills
Investors in People (IiP)
A Stunell said that a paper was being submitted to CMT proposing not to continue with the IiP scheme; this was based on the continuation costs of the IiP estimated to be between £7 – 13k. A Stunell said that she had mapped out the People Strategy in comparison to the IiP, and considered that much of what the IiP reaccreditation proposed was already being addressed by the People Strategy. She also added that HCC were also no longer continuing with IiP because of the significant costs.
Cllr Taylor observed that a bespoke strategy for DBC may offer a better investment for staff at substantially less costs.
A Stunell said that following the introduction of the Sickness Absence policy last April, HR had been asked to review the policy after a year; this was still ongoing – they were also in negotiations with the TU’s about the policy. A Stunell said that policy would not be substantially different as a result of this review, therefore it was unlikely to go to Cabinet/Full Council. She said that it would also include Appendices on Industrial Action, as well as the role of the Sickness Absence Scrutiny Group – this was used in practice, but currently there was no explanation of its role within the policy.
A Stunell also advised the Committee that the occupational health contract was due to be tendered during the month.
Cllr Chapman asked what support was offered to employees that were either returning, or in the process of returning, from a period of absence due to illness. A Stunell said that DBC offered an extensive range of support to these ... view the full minutes text for item 21.