Agenda and minutes

Staffing Policy Committee - Thursday 4 January 2024 10.30 am

Venue: Kennet Room - County Hall, Bythesea Road, Trowbridge, BA14 8JN. View directions

Contact: Ellen Ghey - Democratic Services Officer  Email:

No. Item


Apologies for Absence

To receive any apologies or substitutions for the meeting.


Apologies for absence from Members of the Committee were received from:


·       Councillor Richard Clewer

·       Councillor Jacqui Lay

·       Councillor Ricky Rogers


Apologies were also noted from Mike Osment, representative for Wiltshire Unison.



Minutes of Previous Meeting

To approve and sign as a true and correct record the minutes of the previous meeting held on 8 November 2023.

Supporting documents:


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 8 November 2023 were considered.


Councillor Ashley O’Neill requested that an amendment was made to the wording of Bullet Point 9, Minute 48.


Following which, it was:




The Committee approved and signed the minutes of the meeting held on 8 November 2023 as a true and correct record, subject to the removal of the following words at Bullet Point 9 of Minute 48, as the Cabinet Member and officers were satisfied with the current level of security provided:


“It was acknowledged that although officers could not guarantee complete security on Council owned laptops..


Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of disclosable interests or dispensations granted by the Standards Committee.



There were no declarations of interest.



Chairman's Announcements

To receive any announcements through the Chair.


There were no Chairman’s announcements.



Public Participation

The Council welcomes contributions from members of the public.




If you would like to make a statement at this meeting on any item on this agenda, please register to do so at least 10 minutes prior to the meeting. Up to 3 speakers are permitted to speak for up to 3 minutes each on any agenda item. Please contact the officer named on the front of the agenda for any further clarification.




To receive any questions from members of the public or members of the Council received in accordance with the constitution.


Those wishing to ask questions are required to give notice of any such questions in writing to the officer named on the front of this agenda no later than 5pm on Wednesday 27 December 2023, in order to be guaranteed of a written response. In order to receive a verbal response, questions must be submitted no later than 5pm on Friday 29 December 2023. Please contact the officer named on the front of this agenda for further advice. Questions may be asked without notice if the Chairman decides that the matter is urgent.


Details of any questions received will be circulated to Committee members prior to the meeting and made available at the meeting and on the Council’s website.



There were no statements or questions submitted.



Updates on Policies Due to Oracle Implementation

To receive a verbal update on amendments to policies due to the Oracle implementation.


Laura Fisher, HR & OD Strategy Manager, provided a verbal update to the Committee on a number of minor amendments to different policies due to the implementation of the Oracle system.


It was confirmed that the amendments were not changes to the nature or terms of the policies, but rather to align with the new Oracle system requirements. The following changes were then briefly detailed:


·       Annual Leave Policy – as Oracle was being used to request and track annual leave for all employees regardless of working patterns, leave entitlement was now processed in hours and must be used either as a full or half day leave. As such, when using the standard full and half day measurements, a full day would be recorded as 7.4 to represent 7 hours 24 minutes, and a half day as 3.7 to represent 3 hours 45 minutes.

·       Introduction to the HR Helpdesk – it was explained that the HR Helpdesk would be used as a replacement to employees contacting the HR Advisory Team directly. Therefore, the following policies had been amended to include a standardised statement explaining the new procedure alongside the removal of any other HR Advisory Team references.

o   Equality & Diversity Policy

o   Dignity at Work Policy

o   Code of Conduct Policy

o   Appointments Policy

·       Compressed Hours Policy – it was explained that the minor changes to the policy reflected the changes to the two Bullet Points above.

·       Time off in Lieu (TOIL) Policy – it was explained that minor additions had been made to clarify that the policy did not relate to anyone employed on HAY graded contracts. It was further explained that this was current practice and therefore not a change but had been included after reviewing the policy and discovering that it was not noted. It was also highlighted that Bullet Point 2 had also been included.  


During the discussion, points included:


·       Members queried if the new annual leave system on Oracle was fully operational and emphasised the importance of compliance checks to ensure that managers fully utilised the new system and moved on from the previous method of monitoring and recording annual leave manually. Officers acknowledged that the system was still relatively new after being launched in November 2023, and therefore some teething problems were being experienced due to the complexity and size of Wiltshire Council as an organisation. Despite this, officers reassured Members that regular reviews and compliance checks would be undertaken which would then highlight any discrepancies for further discussions.

·       The planned integration of the payroll system into Oracle was raised and both Members and officers noted the complexity of the project.

·       Members congratulated officers on the launch of Oracle thus far which they considered to be a success.

·       It was highlighted that Members had access to a version of Oracle that was different from Wiltshire Council employees, however it would still allow Councillors to submit expenses alongside other relevant services.


Following which, it was:




The Committee noted the update.



Pay Policy Statement

To consider a report presenting an updated Pay Policy Statement for the financial year 2024-25.

Supporting documents:


Laura Fisher, HR & OD Strategy Manager, presented an updated Pay Policy Statement for the financial year 2024/25 to the Committee prior to agreement by Full Council and publication on the Wiltshire Council website.


It was explained that under Chapter 8 of the Localism Act 2011, every Local Authority must prepare a Pay Policy Statement for each financial year, with the proposed version having a publication deadline of 1 April 2024. Officers then referred to Paragraphs 4 to 9 of the report which detailed the minor amendments to the policy. Particular emphasis was given to Paragraphs 6 and 9 which noted the additions to Paragraph 55 of the policy relating to arrangements for the agreement of special severance payments, and the ongoing negotiations between the Council and Trade Unions on changes to unsocial hours and standby and callout allowances.


During the discussion, points included:


·       Members highlighted an error in the policy which stated that the second phase of the Oracle rollout was set to go live in April 2023 instead of April 2024.

·       Members discussed the continuing negotiations between the Council and Trade Unions and the second proposed recommendation as per Paragraph 16 of the report. Officers noted that briefing sessions and an informal meeting were held towards the end of 2023, with a further meeting scheduled for 15 January 2024. That meeting would involve the 3 Trade Unions and would discuss any proposals that they might have which would enable them to reach collective agreement and deliver Council business objectives. It was further confirmed that Members would be contacted prior to the February 2024 Full Council meeting in the event that collective agreement was reached.

·       Members were pleased to see that the ratio between highest and lowest paid employees had decreased slightly as a result of the National Joint Council (NJC) pay award.

·       Clarification was sought on why the Council’s Monitoring Officer’s duties were considered as a separate role. It was clarified that they meant the Acting Returning Officer role. In response, it was explained that the role was a statutory requirement nationally and therefore the officer undertaking that role would receive an additional payment which does not form part of base pay.

·       It was explained that when considering voluntary redundancies and subsequent re-employment, those employees would not be eligible for any employment continuity benefits.

·       Members raised queries with regard to employees on lower pay. Officers explained that Wiltshire pay grades B-O used the NJC pay spine which was nationally negotiated and agreed on between the National Employers and Trade Unions. Although the bottom point of the pay spine provided a little headroom from the national living wage, it was recognised that there was the need to review the national pay spine to ensure that Local Authorities do not pay at the minimum and remain an employer of choice. Any changes nationally would need to be reviewed and implemented at the local level; however, this was not likely to be considered until after the 2024 General Election.

·       Paragraphs 83 and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Bi-Annual Workforce Report

To receive a report detailing workforce analytics for the period April to September 2023.

Supporting documents:


Kirsty Butcher, Workforce Insight Analyst, alongside Tamsin Kielb, Director HR & OD, updated the Committee on the current workforce analytics position.


It was confirmed that the report concentrated on Q1 and Q2 for the 2023-24 financial year, with the latter sections focussing on long term trends.


During the discussion, points included:


Sickness Absence


·       With regard to stress related absences, Members queried if there was a breakdown available to show the split between those that were work or non-work related. Officers explained that it was difficult to retrieve such data at present, however as Oracle continued to be embedded within the organisation, it may be something that could be looked at in the future. Furthermore, it was emphasised that people experiencing stress was not just a local issue, but a national and even global challenge with the trend continuing to rise.

·       It was noted that the 12 months to September 2023 reported an average of 9.5 days sickness absence per employee which was above the national average of 5 days. Officers highlighted that within the Council there were pockets of stress related absences, and that the data could be skewed by a smaller number of employees with longer term absences. As such, it was difficult to accurately determine the number of employees absent as a percentage of the total workforce, but as their reporting evolved, officers revisit this. 

·       It was explained that due to a recent corporate restructure, the Occupational Health department now fell under the remit of Tamsin Kielb, who reassured Members that understanding how to better support employees experiencing stress related absences was a priority. Furthermore, officers were focussing on achieving a holistic view of the area in general to discern how to best address the issue of resilience within the workforce proactively rather than undertaking a reactive approach. As such, officers were intending on organising a project team to look at this and would include areas such as supporting managers in identifying patterns in individuals, relapse plans, and relevant policies.


Employee Turnover


·       Members were pleased to read that Wiltshire Council were seeing an increase of approximately 2 applicants per job advertisement between January to March 2023 compared to the same period in 2022.

·       Members also commended the introduction of the ‘Leaver Journey’ within Oracle from April 2024, which would trigger automatic invitations for exit interviews. This would hopefully increase the number of exit interviews completed and would enable better analysis of reasons for leaving which would then feed into action plans.


Finance and Salary Costs


·       Agency costs were raised, and officers queried where the other pinch points were apart from the social care directorates. Officers stated that they would provide the information to Members outside of the meeting, however they provided reassurance that the area continued to be scrutinised within the services. Despite this, it was highlighted that the increase in costs was not unexpected when considering the challenging job market, particularly in social care. Furthermore, it was emphasised that the Council were in a good position in comparison  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.


Urgent Items

Any other items of business which, in the opinion of the Chairman, should be considered as a matter of urgency.


Urgent items of a confidential nature may be considered under Part II of this agenda.



There were no urgent items.