The Information Bulletin is a document that is made available to the public with the published agenda papers. It can include update information requested by the Committee as well as information that a service considers should be made known to the Committee.
This Information Bulletin contains updates on the following subjects:
1. Staff Turnover and Welfare
2. Off-payroll Costs Review
3. Voids in Council Properties
Information Bulletin 1
Staff Turnover and Welfare
91.1 The Assistant Director - Corporate Resources, forwarded an apology of absence for the Corporate Manager – Human Resources and Organisational Development (HR & OD) and drew Members’ attention to the table paper, which replaced the table for the ‘Reason for Absence’, page 12 to 13.
91.2 Members raised questions and officers responded that there was no evidence that the move to Endeavour House had caused the increase in stress and anxiety. It was established that the Staff Survey did not show any indication that that staff was unhappy with the environment.
91.3 Staff, who had been absent due to sickness, were offered a gradual phased return as agreed in the Return to Work Policy. The HR Business Partner liaised with management regarding staff’s return and agreed with returning staff any adjustments required. Management were also trained in recognising signs of metal health issues and a campaign to recruit Mental Health First Aider had been undertaken. Staff had access to a variety of options to obtain help for mental health issues including a 24/7 helpline, advertised in numerous places in the work places.
91.4 The Chief Executive said that the stigma surrounding mental health had diminished during the last years, which may account for the increase in the mental health figures, so that it was a positive increase because staff recognised and acknowledged that they needed help.
91.5 Member ask how the Council performed in the ability to recruit and retain quality staff and what was the perceptions of working for the council.
91.6 The Chief Executive responded that the staff Survey had clearly indicated that agile working and flexible hours were attracting staff, as it was possible for them to get a better work/home balance. The aspiration was that the Council became an employer of choice because of the environment, the benefit package, the development and training, which would attract people to work for the Council.
91.7 Some Members disagreed as they thought the difficulties of travelling to the workplace for some member of staff was difficult due to the traffic and that this may account for the difficulties to recruit and retain staff in the Planning Department.
91.8 The Chief Executive responded that most staff could claim Disturbance Allowance and that all staff had received compensation for having lost the benefit of free parking. He then explained that recruitment of Planners was an issue across all Public Sector Authorities.
91.9 Members agreed that it was a concern that stress and anxiety figures were going up and that an Information Bulletin regarding this issue should be presented to the Committee in six months’ time. It was agreed that the information Bulletin should include a breakdown of stress related absence for staff working in Ipswich and elsewhere in the district.
It was RESOLVED: -
1.1 That an updated Information Bulleting for Staff Turnover and Welfare be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee in December 2018 and to include a breakdown of place of work for staff being absent with stress.
Information Bulletin 2
Off Payroll Costs Review
92.10 The Assistant Director - Corporate Resources, explained the updated figures since the last information bulletin on the subject.
92.11 Members noted that the Off-payroll cost was going down. In response the Chief Executive said that it had been his intention since he began working for both Councils to reduce the Off-payroll costs, as he felt that the use of Off payroll staff could have a demoralising effect on staff.
92.12 Members discussed if further updates should be provided to the Committee and when such updates should be brought. A discussion ensued round triggers for updates be it the number of Off-payroll staff or a financial threshold. However, it was agreed it was unlikely that the Senior Leadership Team and Chief Executive would increase the use of Off-payroll Staff in the near future.
It was RESOLVED: -
1.1 That the Information Bulletin be noted.
Information Bulletin 3
Voids in Council Properties
92.13 The Assistant Director – Housing informed Members that the six months Recovery Plan put in place earlier in the year was coming to an end. A report was due to Cabinet in August 2018 on the project.
92.14 Members discussed the monthly Voids Information bulletin and since the voids figures were improving, it was agreed that the Void Information Bulletin should be presented to the Committee every quarter.
92.15 The Cabinet Member for Housing thanked the Assistant Director - Housing for the work the team had undertaken to reduce the void times.
It was Resolved: -
1.1 That the Voids in Council Properties Information Bulletin be presented quarterly to the Babergh Overview and Scrutiny Committee