Agenda item

ARP Homeworking Policy (Agenda Item 7)

Report of the Assistant Director of Commissioning.

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (ARP) presented the report and explained that currently the Partnership had three different Homeworking Policies which caused confusion, inefficiency and difficulties for Managers.

 

A new Policy had been developed following consultations with the HR Teams, Unison and staff.  It had been presented to the LJCC and their suggested amendments had been incorporated.  It was an ARP specific Policy and provided parity for all Partnership homeworking staff.

 

The scheme would be cost-neutral at worst and would possibly produce further efficiencies in productivity.

 

The Policy made clear who could work from home and the criteria required.  Suitability for homeworking was carefully assessed and included psychometric testing.  Homeworking staff were also regularly reviewed.  In every instance a business case was required to support an application for homeworking to ensure a return on the investment, as kit provision cost about £800.

 

The two amendments suggested by LJCC had concerned the allowance paid and the system downtime options.

 

The allowance would be paid at the approved Inland Revenue rate.  As some staff were currently on different rates to that there would be a consultation period before any change was introduced.

 

With regard to unplanned system downtime, the Policy had been clarified (on pages 19 and 20 of the agenda) to set out the actions required by staff and the options available to Managers in such instances.

 

Mr Carter asked about the psychometric testing as he knew there were a number of systems available.  It was confirmed that the test used was specifically designed to address homeworking criteria.

 

Mr Clark asked if there were any legal implications for staff working from home and was advised that there were not.  As the work involved access to the DWP database the system had to be extremely secure and nothing was stored locally.

 

Mr Borrett supported the idea of a single Policy across the four authorities and Mr Bambridge agreed and asked whether there were any comments from the ARP Joint Committee Members.

 

The Operations Manager (ARP) advised that the Joint Committee had considered the new Policy in December 2012 and had approved it.  The Assistant Director of Commissioning had requested that the Policy be referred to the LJCC and General Purposes Committee.

 

In response to a question from Mr Clark it was confirmed that there were currently about 130 homeworkers across the four authorities.  Many of those were part time staff.

 

The LJCC had requested an update on how the Policy was working in October and any changes in the uptake for homeworking would be reported then.

 

Mrs Canham thought that homeworking was a good idea but noted that it did not suit some people.  She asked how people working from home were monitored.

 

The Operations Manager (ARP) advised that there had been homeworkers for the past three or four years and there were a range of measures in place to ensure their welfare and performance, including keeping-in-touch days, when they were required to be in the office for team meetings and one-to-one’s with their Team Leaders.  At those meetings any issues could be raised.  If there was a change in personal circumstances it might mean that homeworking could cease.  That would not preclude the officer from applying for homeworking in future.  With regard to performance, both output and accuracy were measured and assessed against an average.  There was a rigorous performance management framework and statutory service targets from the DWP were strictly measured. 

 

The Chairman noted that on page 19 the Policy required office space ‘free from background noise’.  He suggested that that was an unrealistic requirement and the Operations Manager (ARP) agreed and said that he would amend the wording to say ‘without distractions’.

 

RESOLVED to approve the new ARP Homeworking & Home Enabled Policy.

Supporting documents: