Councillor Bedi had to leave the meeting early and asked if she could email some questions she had on the report to the Employee Relations and Policy Manager direct, which was agreed.
The Employee Relations and Policy Manager then outlined the key details of the report. £15m had been spent on agency and temporary workers in budget year 21/22, and this was broken down into spend in each quarter. There was movement now within the Council of offering permanent positions and moving away from agency staff, with restructures and recruitment programmes underway for finance and IT. Although high staff turnover was currently an issue, this was not unique to Slough, with national figures showing a record 1.2m job vacancies currently, caused by many people choosing or having to change jobs in the aftermath of covid and lockdown.
Members raised concerns that although the figures showed a very small drop in total spend on Agency staff, due to a reduction in quarter 2, overall trends seemed to be showing an increase in reliance on temporary staff. Members also asked about redundancies. The Employee Relations and Policy Manager explained that department restructures had affected the figures and current work was underway to reduce the number of agency staff. Redundancies following restructures and the closure of a number of care homes had also contributed to the high number of leavers. Further information and details of ongoing employee relations cases was requested by Members, and the Employee Relations and Policy Manager agreed to provide this.
Positive comments from staff feedback in their exit interviews had been provided in Appendix 3 of the report, and Members also asked whether negative feedback had been acted upon. It was confirmed that increased work and support on stress and wellbeing was being offered to staff in response to some of the points raised in leavers’ feedback.
Some Members raised concerns about directorates which seemed to be consistently reliant on agency staff, including in Customer Services departments, and what measures were being taken to address this. It was explained that the number of staff in Customer Services had been reduced in the last restructure, and there had then followed a huge demand for these services, this was being looked at again to redress the balance. Measures were being taken but it would take time for change to take effect.
In answer to a question on how often temporary positions were reviewed it was confirmed that this took place on a monthly basis, and if an extension to a temporary contract was requested this would made this would have to be done via a full business case.
Resolved – that details of the report be noted.