· Dignity at Work Code of Conduct
· Managing Stress and Wellbeing Code of Practice
The Associate Director, Customer provided the Committee with an overview of the updated Dignity at Work Code of Conduct and Managing Stress and Wellbeing Code of Practice.
The Diversity and Inclusion Lead provided Members with a summary of the areas that had been updated and or strengthened in both policies. The Dignity at Work Code of Conduct had been updated to include clear definitions and examples of inappropriate behaviour, with details of both the informal and formal processes open to employees to resolve any concerns and issues they may have.
The Managing Stress and Wellbeing Code of Practice outlined the key responsibilities of the organisation in identifying and supporting staff that were experiencing stress at work. In particular, the code highlighted the roles of both managers and employees in promoting wellbeing, placing important emphasis on spotting early signs, and making early interventions. Furthermore, it included the wide range of practical support available to all staff, including the confidential Employee Assistance Programme.
Consultation in respect of the revised codes had taken place, including with Trade Union colleagues and the Employee Engagement Forum.
It was noted that following approval of the Codes , they would be communicated to the wider organisation and implementation would include a programme of events and sessions to Directorates to ensure they were fully understood.
A number of issues were raised in the ensuing discussion, including a request for further details relating to the effectiveness of the current policies and statistics regarding number of complaints received and upheld; and data comparison with neighbouring local authorities. It was noted that following approval of the policies, data would then be collated and available at a future meeting.
Members welcomed the inclusion of cyber bullying within the policies, acknowledging that this was a growing issue that needed to be taken seriously and asked what measures were put in place to ensure that it was monitored and enforced. It was recognised that this was a challenging area and complaints would be taken seriously and appropriate action taken where necessary.
A Member emphasised the importance of highlighting to staff that the policies were developed with their wellbeing at the forefront and asked how the information would be communicated to staff. The Committee was informed that a roll out of the policies to staff had been developed and that employee engagement groups would be used to collate any feedback. Referring specifically to empowering individuals to have the confidence to come forward and raise matters, it was explained that all staff would be informed of the alternative support available if they felt that they were unable to approach their line manager; and that this included approaching HR representatives.
The Chair noted the number of consultees that had been contacted for their views on the proposed codes and asked what, if any, feedback had been received. Members were informed that a number of points had been suggested, such as alternative contacts if individuals felt they were unable to approach their line manager and guidance on dealing with vexatious claims; which had been incorporated within the codes. The importance of ensuring agency staff also adhered to the standards of behaviour expected from permanent staff was raised and that it was the managers responsibility to communicate with all staff.
Addressing the Committee under Rule 30, Councillor Sharif questioned whether the policies and procedures being proposed equipped staff with the confidence to make a complaint, referring to an example when a member of staff was denied permission from their manager to contact HR. The Employee Relations and HR Policy Manager reminded Members that each directorate/team had a designated appointed HR representative whom individuals could approach for advice; emphasizing that managerial permission was not required to do so. Following approval of the Codes, a programme of delivery, including workshops, would be rolled out to ensure awareness amongst all staff.
Resolved – That the Dignity at Work Code of Conduct and Managing Stress and Wellbeing Code of Practice, as appended to the report, be approved.