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APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Phil Bibby CC.
There were no declarations of interest.
To consider the report and information provided by officers that Members requested at the evidence gathering meeting on 14 November 2018, including an outline of early recommendations for the review, and to interview further witnesses for the review.
The Committee considered a report detailing the information requested at the evidence gathering meeting on 14 November 2018.
The Chair reminded Members of the context of the review, what had already been established and what this meeting would cover including:
· The split between long term and short term sickness;
· The Council’s policy of identifying patterns of sickness and underlying causes;
· What the Council does to help people back to work;
· Peer performance;
· Departmental split;
· The cost to the Council in productivity/pay;
· Impact on staff covering for long term absences;
The Chair welcomed Ann Tomlin, Branch Secretary of Unison and Diane Wenham Chair of Unison to the meeting who gave their views to the Committee on the introduction of First Care as part of the Council’s sickness policy. On the whole, First Care would be welcomed as it would provide consistency across the Council with every employee being treated fairly. The representatives advised that a Unison awayday had been organised and would have a focus on health and wellbeing which would allow the matter to be considered further.
Members expressed concern that views of employees had not been received on the new system. Officers advised that a date had not yet been identified for the system to go live as background preparatory work was still being undertaken. It was noted that officers would develop a comprehensive communications plan to ensure employees were clear on the implications of First Care prior to the system going live.
Officers advised that unfortunately it had not been possible to arrange for the two officers recommended by HR to be interviewed. It was agreed that this now be done as a paper exercise with the outcomes to be reported back to Members. Members were asked to provide any suggestions for questions to the Scrutiny Officer.
Members raised a number of points around the review including:
· People who were carers might suffer from stress and anxiety – it was important the Council recognised this hidden group;
· The importance of timely and caring return to work interviews;
· The importance of the continued commitment to the “Time to Change” pledge which had been drawn up by organisations including Mind and the Department of Health;
· An example of a private sector organisation where the sickness levels reduced following a relaxing of the sickness policy combined with a monthly staff survey;
· Improvement in the reporting process for sickness management since MyView had been installed for Managers;
· In relation to the Volunteering Policy, as the policy had not been in place for too long, officers agreed to report the take-up figures to a future meeting;
Following further consideration, it was RESOLVED:
(1) That a comprehensive staff communication plan be developed and implemented prior to the introduction of First Care which, amongst other points, will highlight that this process has been introduced to improve employee wellbeing which in turn should reduce sickness levels.
(2) That officers seek to measure the return on investment post implementation of First Care. If possible the ... view the full decision text for item 2.
URGENT PART 1 BUSINESS
To consider any Part 1 business accepted by the Chair as urgent.
EXCLUSION OF PUBLIC AND PRESS
To consider the following motions –
1. That under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as described in paragraphs1 – 7 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act as amended by Local Government (Access to Information) (Variation) Order 2006.
2. That Members consider the reasons for the following reports being in Part II and determine whether or not maintaining the exemption from disclosure of the information contained therein outweighs the public interest in disclosure.
URGENT PART II BUSINESS
To consider any Part II business accepted by the Chair as urgent.