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Agenda Item No

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Cabinet Meeting : 19th October 2011

 

Report of Cabinet Member for Learning and Development

 

Schools Management of Attendance Policy

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To seek Cabinet consideration of Management of Attendance Policy to Vale Schools having regard to the concerns recently expressed by trade unions.

Recommendations

1.             That Cabinet agree to the policy and recommend that Governing Bodies adopt the policy within their establishments.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             The Schools Management of Attendance Policy is based on the Corporate Policy.  Since the implementation of the Corporate Policy, the Council has successfully reduced absence levels and ensured consistent treatment of staff.

Background

2.             Consultation on the proposed new Schools policy commenced in September 2009 and has continued to be the subject to lengthy discussions with trade unions, Head Teacher groups, Legal Services and CMT.

3.             During the consultation, a number of changes were made in response to issues raised by the unions.  In particular, within the policy, provisions for Maintaining Sick Leave have been extended to staff who are recovering from operations (rather than employees with terminal illness as per Corporate Scheme).  This change was also supported by Head Teacher representatives taking part in the consultation.

4.             Despite the changes, there remain a number of areas where it has not been possible to obtain consensus.  The concerns of the trade unions are outlined within the letter sent to the Leader (Appendix '1') and Cabinet Members.

5.             The key areas referred to in this letter have been addressed as follows:

·               Entitlement to Teacher and NJC Sick Pay Schemes - referenced in policy Section 1.7.  The Council do not accept someone still in receipt of sick pay cannot be dismissed.  Teachers Pay and Conditions allow for a new sick pay entitlement every year (1st April - 31st March) providing the teacher returns to work, which means a teacher can be eligible to sick pay for an indefinite period of time providing they return to work for a minimum of 1 day in any sickness year.  Providing the policy is correctly followed, if a teacher is unable to fulfil their contract of employment due to sickness absence, there will be a stage when their employment can be terminated. 

·               Head Teacher Absence Procedure - the process for managing Head Teacher absence is the contained in the Policy and Appendix '2' outlines who is responsible for the process.

·               Training - will be undertaken as part of implementation plan. 

6.             It has not proved possible to reach agreement on the following:-

·               Nature and timing of trigger points.

·               Representation at first formal meeting.

·               Appeal only applicable against dismissal notices.

The Corporate Management Team considered these issues and supported the Directorate view that concessions on these points would weaken the procedures at school level and undermine the corporate policy.

Relevant Issues and Options

7.             Corporate absence levels have significantly improved since the introduction of the corporate policy.

8.             Absence management in schools is less robust than corporate, particularly with regards short term absence triggers/action.  The current school policy is not specific about trigger points in long term sick cases, although schools are now managing cases more proactively.

9.             Based on latest sickness information (April - June 2011), school absence is slightly lower at 2.9% against corporate 3%.

10.        As part of the consultation process, the trade unions have said that they consider it unnecessary to introduce the new policy.  If it is introduced in its current form, NASUWT in particular have indicated that they will be in dispute with the Council and any school that implements.  They have threatened potential industrial action in any school that manages employees in line with the policy.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

11.        Reduction in absence levels would likely result in significant savings for schools and the Council.  It is accepted that where an employee is absent in the majority of instances given the nature of the service that the work falls to work colleagues undertaking their workload or to agency/supply for teaching staff if cover requirements exceed anticipated levels with significant cost implications.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

12.        None.

Crime and Disorder Implications

13.        None.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

14.        The policy recognises the implications of the Equality Act when dealing with sickness absence.  Its intention is to offer support to individuals covered by the Act and to other staff in order to help them remain in work.

Corporate/Service Objectives

15.        To manage and reduce absence levels in the Council.

Policy Framework and Budget

16.        This is a matter for executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

17.        There has been significant consultation and a number of changes applied to the Policy as part of the extensive and lengthy consultation phase.  At local Directorate and more recently the Corporate Joint Consultative Forum the matter was considered, at which the trade unions continued to register their concerns.

18.        It is anticipated that the introduction of the new policy would result in a decrease in schools absence levels and contribute to the overall reduction in absence levels for the Council as a whole.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

19.        Lifelong Learning.

Background Papers

Letter from Trade Unions (Appendix 1).

Schools Management of Attendance Policy.

 

Contact Officer

Sue Alderman

 

Officers Consulted

E Morgan - Lawyer

A L Unsworth - Operational Manager - HR

Corporate Management Team

 

Responsible Officer:  B Jeffreys, Director of Learning & Development

 

 

 

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