Agenda item


Report and policy attached.


The senior responsible officer for the voluntary release scheme advised that there would be a reduction of around 400 posts across the Council by September 2022. The Council had to address a £13m budget gap and the new voluntary release scheme would be open to all Council employees with more than one year service.


Employees interested in the scheme were being asked to make a case explaining why they should be released. The relevant is then asked for their input and whether they support the case. Areas with staff shortages such as social workers or planners were unlikely to allow any voluntary releases. Eligible staff would receive a release payment of up to £30k as well as, if over 55 years of age, an unreduced pension payment up to the end of their service. Staff would also be asked to say how their existing post could be covered. The Senior Leadership team would review all applications for voluntary release in May 2022 and final decisions would be taken by a panel on 15 June with staff advised shortly afterwards. Drop in sessions were being held for staff and there was regular consultation with Trade Unions.


The Council’s organisational change policy aimed to ensure fair, transparent and consistent management of change. The applications for voluntary release figures were currently being considered and it was aimed to minimise the impact of departures on service areas. Preparatory work would be done at this stage with the position being discussed with any new Administration after the election. Final decisions on allowing staff to leave would not be taken until 15 June. Some Members remained concerned that the process was too quick and that the impact on finance and services had not been fully considered. Officers responded that a timeline of six months was reasonable and that the impact on the service was considered on four occasions during the voluntary release process. It was noted that it was 400 posts that would be lost which could include some agency staff. The aim was to seek to minimise the impact of all lost posts.


The model was more staff-led, asking to express an initial interest in being released and had been used in other Councils such as Newham. Members it was important however to keep staff on board during the process. Decisions on voluntary release would be made in this financial year with the full financial benefit being felt in the following year. It was not possible at this stage to predict the numbers of staff who would apply to leave. If the required numbers asking to leave under voluntary release were not received then other ways of making the remaining savings would have to be considered. It was hoped to avoid compulsory redundancies but this could not be guaranteed.


Employees would lose their release payment if they moved to another Council and could not return to Havering within 12 months, including as agency staff. The precise savings achieved would depend on the cost of the posts involved. Savings could also be made from any release of agency staff. Members remained concerned at the impact the loss of 400 posts would have on the delivery of public services.


The Board NOTED the position.





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