To consider a report from the Chief Officer Human Resources setting out the current position, trends and benchmarking in relation to Attendance Management at the Council. The report also covers recent corporate interventions on this issue along with staff well being responses and next steps.
The report of the Chief HR Officer provided the Board with an update regarding the current position in relation to attendance management and the support offered to managers and employees in relation to health and wellbeing.
The report included the following:
· An outline of the level of sickness absence across the Council.
· Details of the targeted interventions, including refreshed management reporting, targeted service support, prioritisation of long-term sickness cases, and an examination of the reported reasons for ill-health.
· Building manager capability and embedding the #BeWell Offer.
· Highlighting 13 priority service areas that have been identified for additional support from the HR Business Partnering Team.
· An overview and update of the Health and Wellbeing offer that is already in place and has previously been reported to Scrutiny.
The following were in attendance:
· Cllr Debra Coupar (Executive Member)
· Mariana Pexton (Director of Resources)
· Andy Dodman (Chief Officer, Human Resources)
· Claire Matson (Head of Human Resources)
Members noted the content of the report and the progress towards reducing the level of absence. The Scrutiny Board welcomed the further development of the #teamleedsbewell offer.
The Chief Officer for Human Resources outlined the progress delivered through targeted interventions since summer 2022 and the forecast trends for the next few months.
Members noted the financial savings sought across the organisation associated with vacancy management and questioned whether this generates additional pressure for staff managing increasing workloads. It was noted that the recent LGA Corporate Peer Review highlighted similar concerns. In response the Scrutiny Board was advised that the Council is strengthening its offer of support for staff, particularly around managerial capability.
Members sought and received further information about the role of attendance coordinators as part of targeted service interventions.
The Scrutiny Board discussed the themes emerging from work to develop a West Yorkshire Fair Work Charter and requested that further detail be presented to the Scrutiny Board once the framework is available.
The Scrutiny Board requested further information about the main reasons for sickness absence over the period covered by the report and the correlation of those absences with protected characteristics. Concern was expressed about the increase in absence related to mental health.
The Board noted an increase in absence attributable to unspecified viruses in the post-pandemic period. Members sought and received assurances that the organisation is continuing to promote public health advice, particularly for front line staff with higher levels of public interaction, as was the case during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Members sought further information about the support offered to women going through the menopause, noting that this is likely to be underreported as a specific cause of absence.
Staff perception of the main HR interventions was explored. Officers noted the upcoming staff survey will provide a snapshot of general perceptions regarding health and wellbeing and wider satisfaction of staff employed by the Council. It was agreed that additional detail on the staff survey will be provided as part of a further update to Scrutiny that would also cover absence monitoring and performance management in the new municipal year.
It was noted that there are no significant differences in absences relating to staff working increasingly from home and those same groups when they were predominantly office-based pre-pandemic. The most significant variations in sickness absence relate to staff working in environments with more physical demands, where there is a higher prevalence of absence linked to musculoskeletal issues.
Further information was requested in relation to the ongoing reporting of covid-related absences and further detail on the types of illness that make up the Days lost per FTE chart on page 20 of the agenda pack.
The Scrutiny Board reflected on the balance between support and challenge required to ensuring a healthy workforce, and recommended that the successor board carries out further work in this area in 2023/24.
a) To note the content of the report and the ongoing work and progress to reduce the level of absence including the further development of the #teamleedsbewell offer.
b) To note the contents of the Boards discussions which included requests for:
a. Further updates on this agenda to be provided to the Scrutiny Board (Strategy & Resources) in 2023/24.
b. An update to be provided in relation to the West Yorkshire Fair Work Charter once the framework is available.
c. Confirmation of the number of absences reported as Covid-related.
d. A breakdown of the main reasons for sickness over the time period covered by the report and, where possible, the correlation to protected characteristics.