The OD/HR Business Partner introduced a report that provided the Committee with an update on the Council’s actions taken regarding the supply and control of temporary labour.
At the last Committee meeting officers had advised of the intention to re-procure the temporary labour service contract. There had been a slight delay in the process due to the need to complete due diligence between the top bidders, however the exercise had now been completed and Matrix SCM had been awarded the contract. It was explained that a ‘hybrid model’ service would be provided, meaning that the Council would engage with different worker types in different manners, with lower graded labour being managed via a single agency and higher graded and interim labour being engaged via a number of pre-qualified agencies.
JulainPanter, Business Director, Matrix SCM was invited to address the Committee. He explained that the company had partnered with over 90 local authorities clients across the UK to deliver cost savings and process efficiencies. Matrix would be working closely with the Council’s managers to provide a resilient labour supply chain.
The Chair then invited comments and questions from Members.
During the course of the discussion, the following points were raised:
· It was confirmed that as part of the due diligence process work had been undertaken to put in place the supply chain agencies.
· It was noted that the rebasing of agency rates would cost approximately £10,000. A Member asked what benefits the additional cost would deliver. In response, it was explained that the previous contract was focused on the agency fee margin and this approach had meant fees were too low to attract candidates. The Matrix contract allowed a greater degree of flexibility and would target the right calibre of candidate.
· A Member asked if during the Covid-19 lockdown period agency staff had been working from home, and if this had reduced costs incurred by the Council. It was explained that at the beginning of the lockdown period the Government had issued guidance to local authorities urging them not to end contracts with agency staff.
· In relation to supply chain management it was asked if any of the agencies used were Slough based. It was confirmed that non of the agencies were locally based. However, due to the types of jobs being recruited to, agencies would be employing local people.
· In relation to the number of vacancies currently filled by temporary staff, it was asked how many of these roles could be converted into permanent roles. It was explained that further work would be undertaken in the next stage of the contract to ascertain the number of temporary position that could be converted into permanent roles. Discussions would be held with the Matrix on-site Manager to progress this work. A key performance indicator of the new contact related to the number of contracts that could be filled permanently. The OD/HR Business Partner agreed to circulate: a list of the Key Performance Indicators for the new Matrix contract; and when data became available, information relating to the number of temporary roles that had been converted into permanent roles.
· It was asked if the Matrix contract would provide an overall saving to the Council. In addition, it was highlighted that the Council’s focus should be on training and ‘growing its own staff’. In response, it was explained that as part of the new contract a mapping exercise would be undertaken to consider if posts currently being filled temporarily could be advertised as permanent positions. It
· A Member how many of the staff currently filling temporary position were Slough residents. The OD/HR Business Partner agreed to forward this information to the Committee following the meeting.
· It was asked what arrangements were in place to manage the new Matrix contract. It was explained that Key Performance Indicators would be implemented and monthly meetings would be held with Matrix to monitor performance. ‘Service credits’ had also been agreed within the terms of the contract, meaning that if Matrix failed to meet the set targets a percentage of the fee could be retuned to the Council.
· It was noted that a number of agency staff had worked for the Council for more than two years. It was asked why these temporary posts could not have been converted into permanent posts. It was explained that in many cases managers sought a temporary staffing solution. The Council was currently undertaking a restructure and managers did not want to recruit to permanent postions and than have to make staff redundant. In some circumstances there was a requirement to recruit specialist staff to work on specific time limited projects.
· It was reported that the Matrix contract would be in place for two years with the option to extend for up to four years.
· Referring to Appendix 1 of the report, a Member requested that in future reports additional information regarding the specific temporary job roles in each service directorate be provided, as this would enable the Committee to get a better understanding of the Council’s temporary workforce.
· The Chair highlighted the importance of the Council reducing its overall reliance on temporary staff and converting long-serving temporary staff into permanent employees to reduce costs to the Council.
The Chair thanked the OD/HR Business Partner for the report.
(a) That the report be noted.
(b) That the OD/HR Business Partner be requested to provide the following information to the Committee:
· The Key Performance Indicators of the new Matrix contract.
· Information/figures relating to the number of temporary staff posts converted into permanent posts.
· The number of temporary staff who were also Slough residents.
· In relation to Appendix 1 of the report, it was requested that additional information regarding the specific temporary job roles in each directorate, be provided in future reports.