Venue: Norfolk Room, The Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Dereham
To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 8 August 2007.
The Minutes of the meeting held on 8 August 2007 were agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.
Apologies (Agenda item 2)
To receive apologies for absence.
Apologies for absence were received from Messrs S Chapman-Allen, D Myers, I Sherwood and D Williams.
Report of the Operations Manager (Environment).
The Committee was asked to note the contents of the revised Health and Safety Policy and to recommend its formal adoption and implementation.
Members were informed that the reason the Policy had been amended was to take account of the recent appointment of the new Chief Executive. The Chief Executive had overall responsibility for its implementation and had to agree any amendments and sign the Policy. Minor amendments had been made which had been highlighted in the document.
A Member made reference to occupier’s liability insurance which covered injuries to the public whilst visiting the Council. It was explained that the Health and Safety Policy was a statutory requirement and was a separate legislation from the Occupier Liability (Compulsory Insurance) Act; therefore it did not need to be included in the Health and Safety Policy.
Another Member asked how the Councillors would be protected; as they were not classed as employees or members of the public. In response, the Technical Officer advised that, although this was considered to be a grey area, Members responsibility under the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974, as far as he was aware, prosecution against an elected member had not taken place as it was a theoretical impossibility that it could be proven that a Members action was directly attributable to an omission that led to an injury to a member of staff or the public. Further to this, Councillors would be covered within the Policy under the Equal Opportunities Act.
RECOMMEND that Cabinet be asked to agree the revised Health and Safety Policy for Breckland Council.
Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
The Organisational Development Manager presented the report which concerned three HR Policies that had been re-written and a number of other HR Policies that had been deferred following the meeting of the General Purposes Committee held on 4 July 2007 (Minute No.43/07 refers).
The appendices attached to the report were as follows:
Disciplinary Policy and Procedure
Grievance Policy and Procedure
Sickness Absence Management Policy and Procedure
Capability Policy and Procedure
Appraisal Policy and Procedure
Breckland Remuneration & Reward Policy and Procedure (BRSS)
Welfare and Counselling Policy and Procedure
Honorariums and Spot Bonus Policy and Procedure
Members were informed that if the Capability, Sickness and Disciplinary Polices were approved the Officer Delegations would need to be changed to enable Officers to hear both Hearings and Appeals under the Disciplinary, Capability and Sickness Absence procedures, where these could lead to dismissal.
If approved all Policies would be user friendly and only one page in length and made available on every employees Home Page on HR Net.
The Organisational Development Manager advised that the policies themselves needed to be continually reviewed; therefore, amendments needed to be made as quickly as possible to protect Breckland Council against any new legislation or procedural changes.
RECOMMEND to Council
1) that the revised Policies be implemented with immediate effect and that all employees be informed that the amended policies would be easily accessible on HR. Net; and
2) that the Officer Delegations be changed to enable Officers to hear both Hearings and Appeals under the Disciplinary, Capability and Sickness Absence procedures, where these could lead to dismissal.
Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.
The Organisational Development Manager presented the report which concerned Breckland Council’s policy and procedure on service provision outside of office hours. The current policy was that the Council did not provide a service except in the case of an emergency which was either life threatening or blue light request. The practice, however, was that other services were being provided out of necessity.
The Out of Hours Policy and Procedure had been attached to the report for consideration. If approved, it would standardise the Council’s position in moving forward.
The Organisational Development Manager advised that there was a need to clarify and then standardise the elements of out of hours service provision. Each service team could then operate consistently within the framework.
There were a number of departments that provided out of office hours services. These included Housing, Building Control and Environmental Health. Each of these teams had participated in a six month monitoring exercise to establish the volumes and types of activity undertaken out of hours.
The Chairman queried the standby officer’s working hours if that particular person had to be called out. In response, the Organisational Development Manager advised that the Council would have to operate within the law; where an officer had undertaken out of hours work either on standby, taking calls and/or in being called out, the Council would need to ensure that officers did not transgress the Working Time Directive.
The Strategic Housing Manager then explained how the pilot scheme had worked within the Housing Services team. The pilot scheme had allowed a rota to be put in place which had worked well. A weekly standby payment of a £100 was being paid to an Officer as well as having time off in lieu. The Strategic Housing Manager felt that the Housing team deserved some recognition of the calls and work they did out of office hours. She further felt that it would be difficult for her section to only have time off in lieu as it would present a problem on service delivery.
There was a requirement, in the blue light Policy that there should be someone on standby for 24 hours; however, that did not fit in with the Council’s current policy. The last General Purposes Committee meeting had asked the relevant teams to look at outsourcing which, in the opinion of the relevant teams, would have a big impact on their budgets.
The Organisational Development Manager explained that there were three options that could be considered:
Next Meeting (Agenda item 8)
To note that the next meeting will be held on 7 November 2007 at 10.00 am.
It was noted that the next meeting of the General Purposes Committee would be held on 7 November 2007 at 10.00am in the Norfolk Room.