Agenda item

Corporate Support Committee - 31 January 2024

The Chair of the Corporate Support Committee, Councillor Oppler, will present a recommendation from the meeting of the Corporate Support Committee held on 31 January 2024.


The minutes from the meeting are attached. The recommendation for the Council to consider is set out below:


·       Minute 592 [Pay Policy Statement 2024-2025] – the Officer’s report and accompanying appendices are attached.


(During the course of the discussion on this item, the following Councillors declared Personal Interests and confirmed that they would not take part in the discussion or vote on this item:


Councillor Northeast as he was married to a member of staff and Councillor Blanchard-Cooper as he was related to members of staff).


            The Chair of the Corporate Support Committee, Councillor Oppler presented recommendations from the meeting of the Corporate Support Committee held on 31 January 2024.


            Councillor Oppler drew Members’ attention to two recommendations at Minute 592 [Pay Policy Statement] which he formally proposed.  The recommendations were then seconded by Councillor Tandy.


            In considering the recommendations, concern was raised regarding the Pay Policy Statement and in relation to Paragraph 3.5.2 [pay progressions is by annual increment on 1 April each year until the employee has reached the top of the grade]. It was felt that as the Council was needing to make significant  savings, this automatic pay progression should be questioned. Councillor Gunner then confirmed that he wished to make an amendment and he proposed that this paragraph be removed from the Pay Policy Statement as he felt that it was not appropriate at this time and in view of the savings that the Council was needing to make and in recognition that staff were being made redundant.


This amendment was seconded by Councillor Cooper.


            Advice was sought from the Group Head of Law & Governance and/or Monitoring Officer and Interim Joint Chief Executive.


            The Joint Interim Chief Executive and Director of Growth confirmed that the amendment could not be retrospectively applied to existing members of staff due to already agreed contractual arrangements. If approved, it could only apply to new staff. It was highlighted that pay progression via annual increment in this way was common practice across most authorities and so he urged Councillors to bear this in mind in considering the amendment and to think about how this could affect the Council in the longer term when recruiting staff. The Council had worked very hard in recent months to reduce its reliance upon agency staff. 


The Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer reminded Members of the contractual rights and employment arrangements already in place for staff, which was a Group Head responsibility. He therefore urged Members to tread very carefully in considering making any changes to existing staff payment arrangements. He held concerns over the amendment from a legal perspective and as there had been no opportunity to undertake required consultations, especially with Human Resources.


The Chair then invited debate on the amendment. There were Councillors who also expressed the concern confirmed by the Interim Joint Chief Executive and Group Head of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer. They felt that Full Council was not the correct forum to be making changes to existing employment contracts and as it was customary to firstly consult with the officers concerned and then staff representatives. There were concerns expressed over the lawfulness of making such a decision at this meeting and it was suggested that the matter be referred to the Corporate Support Committee. Other reservations expressed were that no concerns had been raised by the Corporate Support Committee and that this proposal would be damaging to the council’s reputation in attracting new staff and at a time when it was seeking to recruit staff and reduce its reliance upon agency staff.


Councillor Cooper, as seconder to the amendment, spoke in support of it. He confirmed that the amendment was to address why a ‘given’ annual increment was awarded which was not subject to an assessment of the employee’s performance. He confirmed that if it affected staff morale and wages and effectiveness, then the Council should look at its policy of paying a good market rate up front without the need to add in automatic increments. Councillors were needing to make hard decisions during a time of financial difficulty. Now was the time to remove the annual automatic increment and look at staff pay and performance related opportunities. 


Councillor Gunner, as the proposer of the amendment, reminded Councillors that this amendment was not including the inflationary increase paid to staff each year. He outlined that he had listened to the debate and concerns raised and so confirmed that he would be happy to withdraw the amendment if the matter addressed by it would be referred to the Corporate Support for review.


The Group Hed of Law & Governance and Monitoring Officer reminded Councillors it was a statutory requirement for the Council to approve its Pay Policy Statement for 2024/2025 and that it needed to be published by 1 April 2024. The concerns raised by Councillor Gunner would therefore be referred to the Corporate Support Committee but would need to be in respect of next year’s statement.


            The Council

                        RESOLVED – That

(1)          The Pay Policy Statement 2024/2025 for publication on the Arun website by 1 April 2024 be approved; and


(2)          Delegated authority be given to the Group Head of Organisational Excellence to make changes to the Pay Policy Statement should the need arise because of new legislation being introduced or changes to the pay structure resulting from national pay negotiations during the forthcoming year.

Supporting documents: