Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Human Resources Sub Group - Friday, 29th November, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Antechamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension

Contact: Mike Williamson 

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 280 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the HR Subgroup meeting held on 15 October 2019.




To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 15 October 2019 as a correct record.



Legal Services Workforce HR Plan pdf icon PDF 3 MB

Presentation of the City Solicitor is attached.


The Sub Group considered the presentation provided by the City Solicitor and Deputy City Solicitor.


The Deputy City Solicitor referred to the main points and themes within the presentation which included: -


?              An overview of the structure of the legal services department;

?              Providing an overview of the workforce profile;

?              Data on the levels of sickness and the work undertaken to address this;

?              Information on the use of resources and the work to reduce agency spend;

?              An update on apprenticeships and training and development;

?              Feedback from the b-Heard survey and the response to this; and

?              Identified challenges, opportunities and good news.


Some of the key points that arose from the Sub Group’s discussions were: -


?              Welcoming the introduction of flexible working arrangements for staff and enquiring what measures were in place to ensure staff were not working over their contracted hours;

?              Recruitment adverts should promote the offer of flexible working arrangements;

?              What was being done to recruit to vacancies and information was sought on vacancies that were not being recruited to, noting that vacancies could contribute to stress levels experienced by staff; and

?              Welcoming the Autism training for staff and managers.


In response to questions and comments from Members, the Deputy City Solicitor stated that staff had responded positively to the introduction of the flexible working arrangements. She stated that staff workloads were monitored through regular supervision meetings with managers and the system for the recording of work was robust to ensure that staff were working appropriately. She further commented that the culture and message to staff was clear in regard to workload and expectations regarding hours worked.


The Deputy City Solicitor commented that the market for solicitors was very competitive. She said that to address this, market supplements had been awarded to posts that were difficult to recruit to and it was anticipated that this would help with the recruitment and retention of staff. She further commented that the marketing of vacancies had been refreshed to attract prospective candidates and further consideration would be given as to where posts were advertised, including the use of social media. She further stated that the legal department worked closely with local universities to attract and retain local talent and they were committed to developing existing staff and utilising apprenticeship and work experience opportunities.


The Deputy City Solicitor further informed Members that a number of vacancies reported related to administrative posts, and a review of the legal services’ support function would be undertaken in the new year.


In response to comments regarding the reasons for staff absence being stress and depression, the City Solicitor stated that this was not uncommon amongst the profession, especially within Children’s Services. The Subgroup commented that Children’s Services did not in fact have the worst rate of absence, and enquired as to whether there was a relationship between the levels of vacancy within a group, and the sickness absence rate. To address this the City Solicitor stated that staff were encouraged to talk openly with their managers and not  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.


Highways Workforce - update pdf icon PDF 795 KB

Presentation by the Director of Highways is attached.


The Sub Group considered the presentation provided by the Director of Highways.


The Director of Highways referred to the main points and themes within the presentation which included: -


?              Providing an overview of the workforce profile;

?              An update on the flexible working arrangements;

?              Providing an overview of health and wellbeing arrangements;

?              Providing an overview of people management and development; and

?              An update on the service redesign.


Some of the key points that arose from the Sub Group’s discussions were: -


?              Requesting an update on Performance Managements cases;

?              Requesting an update on staff absences;

?              Requesting an update on vacancies and the approach to filling these;

?              The cost of the use of consultants;

?              Clarification was sought as to the reasons why the reported Boards had been established; and

?              Did staff receive appropriate training.


The Head of Transformation (Highways) informed the Members that following the previous report to the Subgroup in February 2019 there had been a change to the configuration of the service. She stated that Highways Maintenance, formally known as Manchester Contracts no longer sat within the Highways Department. She stated that this service now sat within the Commissioning Service of Neighbourhoods Services, and Parking Services had transitioned to the Corporate Core. She further provided an update regarding the number of Return to Work interviews completed which was currently 89% for Highways Maintenance (formerly Manchester Contracts) and 96% as of Quarter 2 for 2019/20 for the Highways Department. She stated that the average days lost per Full Term Equivalent was currently 8 days per year which was higher than the corporate average, noting this was accounted for due to a number of long term conditions and due to a number of recent RTW expects this figure to decrease.


In regard to performance management cases the Head of Transformation (Highways) stated that there was one member of the workforce subject to informal performance management.  There are two conduct cases in Highways Maintenance, one of which had concluded with a warning for misconduct and the second, a gross misconduct case had progressed to the hearing stage.  


The Head of Transformation (Highways) reported that following the service redesign, that included growth in staff numbers, there were currently 29 vacancies that they were actively recruiting to and it was anticipated that these posts would be filled by the summer of 2020. She further advised that the Department were using 33 consultants employed at a projected cost of circa £1.8m for 19/20, noting this needed to be understood in the context of the number and scale of projects to be delivered across Manchester, the recent service redesign and the core and flex resourcing model that is being introduced. She stated that it was envisaged that the number and subsequent cost of consultants would reduce as vacant posts were recruited to, but that it was anticipated that there would be an ongoing spend of around £500k/year on consultants because of the project-based nature of the work. The Director of Highways stated that the service redesign had recently  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 38 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit


To review the work programme of the Subgroup.


The Sub Group were invited to consider and agree the work programme. The Chair commented that she would consult with Officers regarding the timing of the ‘Outcomes of the BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) review’ report that was scheduled for the next meeting and a date and time for the meeting would be confirmed.


She further commented that following the discussion at this meeting consideration would be given to scheduling the report listed as ‘Review of the Council’s Recruitment policy and processes’.




To agree the work programme subject to the above comments.