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.
The Chair then invited comments and questions from Members.
During the course of the discussion, the following points were raised:
· A Member asked if there was an ambition to fill temporary posts by residents of Slough. It was explained that vacancies were normally advertised internally first and if not successfully filled would be advertised externally; vacancies were open to anyone meeting the criteria to apply. It was agreed that a discussion would be held with the Council’s contracted recruitment agency (Matrix SCM) to understand if there were ways of engaging more applicants from Slough.
· The Committee requested information regarding the number and job roles of all temporary workers earning over £75,000 per annum be provided in the next report. In addition, further information was requested regarding the specific job roles of all temporary workers. It was felt that a clear understanding of the skills shortage roles could be used to inform the Council’s economic strategy.
· Concern was raised that temporary staff were contracted on a long-term basis (often 3-4 years). It was explained that during the Council’s transformation period, a conscious decision had been taken to hold some temporary posts - this was to provide opportunities for any permanent staff that might be displaced as part of the restructure process. It was agreed that information regarding the temporary posts that had been held, be circulated to the Committee.
· Frustration was expressed that over the last three years there did not appear to have been a reduction in the number of temporary workers, despite the Committee having raised its concerns previously. It was explained that the situation was reviewed on a regular basis to ensure the Council’s resources were being used effectively. It was reported that Phase 2 of the restructure would address the high level of temporary workers. However, it was highlighted that there would always be an element of spend on agency workers due to the national shortage of planners and social workers, and the need to cover some posts on a temporary basis due to maternity or long-term sickness.
· Concern was raised that a high percentage (47%) of workers had chosen not to state their ethnicity on monitoring forms. It was agreed that this would be raised with Matrix to discuss if the data could be improved.
· In view of the completion of the Phase 1 restructure, it was asked if there would be a reduction of spend on temporary posts in the Executive directorate. It was explained that the Phase 1 consultation had now been completed, however, there were four Associate Director posts that had not yet been filled, and in the interim these may need to be filled by temporary workers.
· A Member requested that data regarding the number of temporary post filled by staff displaced by the restructure be provided to the Committee. It was explained that this information would not be available for the January 2021 meeting, as the consultation process would not yet have been concluded. Therefore, the information would be provided at the April 2021 meeting.
(a) That the report be noted.
(b) That the OD/HR Business Partner be requested to provide the following information in the next report to the Committee:
- The total number and job roles of all temporary workers earning over £75,000 per annum.
- Information regarding all the temporary posts that had been held as part of the Council’s Transformation process.
(c) That the OD/HR Business Partner be requested to discuss the following issues with Matrix SCM:
- Means to encourage more Slough residents to apply for temporary posts.
- The high percentage of temporary workers who had chosen not to state their ethnicity on the monitoring form and ways to improve the data collected.