Agenda, decisions and minutes
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Apologies for Absence
To receive any apologies for absence.
Apologies were received from Councillors Andy Kendall, Leigh Redman and Graham Oakes.
Apologies were received from Councillors Andy Kendall, Leigh Redman and Graham Oakes.
Cllr Stanton attended the meeting remotely.
To approve the minutes from the previous meeting.
Resolved that the minutes of the Human Resources Committee held on 11th July 2023 be confirmed as a correct record.
Resolved that the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 11 July 2023 be confirmed as a correct record.
Declarations of Interest
To receive and note any declarations of interests in respect of any matters included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting.
(The other registrable interests of Councillors of Somerset Council, arising from membership of City, Town or Parish Councils and other Local Authorities will automatically be recorded in the minutes: City, Town & Parish Twin Hatters - Somerset Councillors 2023 )
There were no additional declarations of interest.
Public Question Time
The Chair to advise the Committee of any items on which members of the public have requested to speak and advise those members of the public present of the details of the Council’s public participation scheme.
For those members of the public who have submitted any questions or statements, please note, a three minute time limit applies to each speaker and you will be asked to speak before Councillors debate the issue.
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The Chair noted that no public questions had been received.
The HR Committee is asked to approve the Health and Safety Statement of Intent for Somerset Council and the following Health and Safety policies:
Safety Action Notices, Confined Spaces, New and Expectant Parents, Working Safely at Height, Biological Agent (Infection Control and Blood-borne Viruses), Water Assets, and Working Outside in the Sun and Extremes of Heat and Cold.
The Committee, having considered and discussed the reports, agreed to:
Approve the Somerset Council Health and Safety Statement of Intent Policy.
Approve the Somerset Council Safety Action Notices Policy.
Approve the Somerset Council Confined Spaces Policy.
Approve the Somerset Council New and Expectant Parents Policy.
Approve the Somerset Council Working Safely at Height Policy.
Approve the Somerset Council Biological Agent (Infection Control and Blood-borne Viruses) policy.
Approve the Somerset Council Water Assets and Working Outside in the Sun and Extremes of Heat and Cold.
Give delegated authority to the Corporate Health and Safety Unit to publish and update guidance documents when necessary.
The Chair, invited the Service Manager – Corporate Health and Safety to introduce the report and he provided a presentation of a range of Health and Safety policies for Somerset Council for the Committee’s approval.
· The Committee was shown how to access the Intranet Site and a background was provided of Health and Safety processes that had been undertaken to prepare the policies contained in the report.
· It was explained that a Health, Safety and Wellbeing Steering Group had been established and was chaired by the Health and Safety Champion. The Group’s function would be to monitor the Council’s Health and Safety policies, debate significant Health and Safety issues to ensure that the Council provided a workplace conducive for staff wellbeing. The Group would oversee 5 Boards that had been set up to ensure that Health and Safety risks were managed effectively across the directorates.
· A diagram was displayed of the Health and Safety and Well-being management framework.
· It was noted that the Somerset Council policies had been adopted from the former County Council and four District Councils (Mendip, Sedgemoor, Somerset West & Taunton, and South Somerset) and work had been undertaken to review and update those to a single set of Health and Safety policies.
· The Statement of Intent was outlined and Members noted that it committed Somerset Council to ensuring the provision of a workplace where employees felt safe, supported, and free to raise concerns and feel included regardless of race, religion, gender, political beliefs, or abilities. As the most senior individuals in the Council, the Chief Executive and Leader of the Council have signed the Statement of Intent.
· The Statement of Intent also outlined the Council’s commitment to undertake its business operations in a way that prevents injury or illness to employees, visitors, contractors, and the public who may be impacted by Council operations and activities.
· The Working Safely at Height Policy outlined the Council’s commitment to ensuring compliance with the Working at Height Regulations 2005. In doing so, the policy clearly defined responsibilities placed on employees across all levels of the organisation.
· The Safety Action Notice Policy set out the approach for how the Council would administer and take action to address identified or reported noncompliance, hazards, or serious risks to Health and Safety.
· The New and Expectant Parents Policy set clear responsibilities to manage and reduce risk and help enable new and expectant parents at work.
· The Confined Spaces Policy was a new policy as during the Local Government Reorganisation process, the Health and Safety Service identified a need for this policy owing to activities undertaken by operational teams transferring from predecessor district organisations.
· The Working Outside in the Sun and Extremes of Heat and Cold Policy would replace the Sun Protection Policy.
· The Water Assets Policy is a new policy as during the Local Government Reorganisation process it had been noted a water assets policy would ensure the Council had clearly defined procedures for their management and the management of employees who may work near ... view the full minutes text for item 11.
To receive a verbal update on any HR related issues.
The Chair, invited The Director of Strategy, Workforce and Localities to provide an update and the following points were noted:
· A general workforce update was outlined and this included recruitment opportunities arising in those services areas going through restructuring.
· It was noted that a Head of Operations post, a Customer Insights post and a Head of Regulatory Services were currently going through the recruitment process, and were open to expressions of interest.
· A process of creating business cases for individual service structures was ongoing across the Council.
· There would be a thorough evaluation and recruitment process and the redeployment pool could be utilised by unsuccessful employees.
· The Strategy, Workforce and Localities area had significant challenges due to its current functions having previously been split across all of the 5 former Councils and a thorough systematic review would ensure all areas were appropriately consulted on.
· It was explained there were a significant number of vacancies recorded on SAP and a review was being carried out to ensure the current number (1362) was accurate.
· Final steps on reviewing policies and procedures associated with Recruitment Protocols, Redundancy Procedures and suitable alternative employment were being progressed.
There was a discussion and the following points were raised: the ongoing uncertainty for many staff concerning recruitment/retention and restructure as there appeared to be a number of staff leaving due to this. Reviewing the number of vacancies showing on SAP and how this could be mitigated in future.
The Interim Director of Workforce was introduced and she informed the Committee of her previous work experience, including recently undertaking a number of senior leadership roles such as Interim Assistant Director People Services at Birmingham City Council and Interim Talent, Transformation and Inclusion Director at Hammersmith and Fulham Council. She noted her commitment to the Council and looking forward to using her knowledge and skills to ensure the workforce was fit for purpose.
The Director of Strategy, Workforce and Localities informed the Committee that the Council’s senior leadership team had been concerned about staff leaving and the Council and they were committed to providing clarity and communications for all staff. He noted that the SAP vacancy issue was complicated as it involved migrating data and checking data quality.
The Chair, after ascertaining there were no other items of business, thanked all those present for attending and closed the meeting.