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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 23 March, 2015

Report of the Leader

Voluntary reduction in working hours scheme

Purpose of the Report

1. To ask Cabinet to consider and endorse the proposed voluntary reduction in working hours scheme.

Recommendations

1. That Cabinet approve the proposed voluntary reduction in working hours scheme (Appendix A) for implementation as soon as practical following determination by the Cabinet.

 

2. That a six month review be undertaken and an update report outlining the impact and take up of the scheme be brought to Cabinet later this financial year.

 

3. That delegated authority be given to the Head of HR to develop appropriate guidance on the implementation of the scheme.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. To help contribute to current savings targets across all service areas and increase flexibility for both the Council's Services as well as employees.

 

2. To provide Members with the opportunity to review the response to the scheme and to consider recommendations on whether the scheme could be improved.

 

3. To support employees and managers with the application of the scheme.

Background

2. Members will be aware that discussions have been progressing with the trade unions in relation to continuing budget challenges faced by the Council. The proposed voluntary reduction in working hours scheme is one element of an overall framework agreement reached with the recognised trade unions as set out in the Cabinet report of the 17th November 2014.

 

3. The scheme will provide employees with the opportunity to apply for flexible working, in particular to access a reduction in their working hours, to suit their personal circumstances. Requests will be considered and supported by managers wherever possible on a defined or permanent duration subject to the agreement of the employee and the manager and to the exigencies of the service.

 

4. The scheme sets out the scope for those who the scheme is available and the eligibility criteria for employees to be able to submit an application to reduce their working hours.

 

5. The scheme will contribute towards achieving savings through a reduction in salary costs, employer contributions for National Insurance and potentially pension contributions for those in membership of the Local Government (LGPS) or the Teacher's Pension scheme.

Relevant Issues and Options

6. Employees working full or part time may apply to reduce their working hours (subject to the eligibility criteria).

 

7. All applications for a voluntary reduction in working hours will be considered in relation to continuity of service provision. Chief Officers must be satisfied that there will be no detriment to other workers, service users or to the Service and that the work can be satisfactorily covered or no longer needs to be undertaken.

 

8. The employing Chief Officer must also be satisfied that the employee is aware of the implications on their terms and conditions of employment, and has been given details as to how to access pension advice.

 

9. The application to reduce working hours may be agreed to be permanent or for temporary durations of six months (which may be extended for further periods of six months as appropriate). The arrangement will be reviewed at the end of each period to ensure mutual suitability.

 

10. Employees may apply to change their working hours by: reducing the number of work days/sessions each week; reducing the number of hours each day/shift; work term time only or some other arrangement to suit a combination of work and their family and personal commitments.

 

11. All terms and conditions of employment will be applied on a pro rata basis. This includes:

- Rate of wage/salary

- Entitlement to annual/flex time leave and public/statutory holidays

- Sickness allowance/pay

- Maternity/paternity/adoption/shared parental leave

- Pension contributions and future benefits

12. If a request to voluntarily reduce working hours is turned down, the employee may appeal the decision to the determining Chief Officer (Head of Service/Operational Manager). This appeal will be considered by their Chief Officer (Director/Head of Service) not previously involved in the initial decision. The outcome of the appeal will be given in writing and a copy of the appeal decision sent to the Head of Human Resources. There shall be no further right of appeal.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

13. There will be financial savings from the proposed voluntary reduction in working hours scheme, although it is difficult to anticipate how popular the scheme will be and the scale of the savings that could result. The main advantages will be in offering a flexible approach to employees to enhance their work/life balance and to also provide financial savings for the Council.

 

14. The proposed voluntary reduction in working hours scheme may have resource implications on the ability for service areas to ensure a continued provision of a high quality service. Applications to vary working hours will only be approved where service provision will not be adversely affected.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

15. There are no sustainability or climate change implications directly arising from this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications) 

16. There are no legal implications directly arising from this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

17. There are no crime and disorder implications directly arising from this report.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

18. The proposals for the voluntary reduction in working hours scheme as attached in Appendix A have been subject to an equality impact assessment which shows a positive impact for employees.

Corporate/Service Objectives

19. The scheme seeks to support the delivery of service objectives set out in the Corporate Plan 2013/17 and individual service plans by offering a flexible approach to providing a positive work/life balance and engaging with a committed workforce.

Policy Framework and Budget

20. This report is a matter for the Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

21. The Trade Unions have been consulted on the proposed scheme and support the scheme being launched this April.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

22. Corporate Resources

Background Papers

Appendix A - Voluntary reduction in working hours scheme

Contact Officer

Adrian Unsworth, Operational Manager Human Resources

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team

Responsible Officer:

Siân Davies, Managing Director

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