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Declarations of Interest
To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008 (including whipping declarations)
To receive for approval the minutes of 14/01/21
RESOLVED: That the Minutes of a meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee dated 14 January 2021 be approved as a true and accurate record.
Mark Shephard - Chief Executive
Councillor Hywel Williams - Deputy Leader
Lindsay Harvey - Corporate Director - Education & Family Support
Councillor Charles Smith - Cabinet Member for Education & Regeneration
Claire Marchant - Corporate Director - Social Services & Wellbeing
Councillor Nicole Burnett - Cabinet Member for Social Services and Early Help
Councillor Richard Young - Cabinet Member for Communities - Mental Health Champion
Kelly Watson - Chief Officer Legal, HR & Regulatory Services
Debra Beeke - Group Manager - Human Resources and Organisational Development
Helen Selway - HR Business Partner Manager
The Group Manager, Human Resources and Organisational Development presented the report on Sickness Absence related to Stress, Anxiety, Depression and Mental Health.
The Chairperson thanked the Group Manager for presenting the report and Members of the Committee asked the following:
A Member expressed caution at using the Covid-19 year for the setting of baselines as it could potentially provide false data. He recognised that the report had distinguished between mental illness and mental health and wellbeing, but expressed a need for a change to the HR absence recording system in order to ensure a further breakdown of mental illness and mental health and wellbeing categories, and further identify whether the absence was work related or personal.
The Group Manager, Human Resources and Organisational Development advised that there were challenges to changing the categorisation on the system, and that making changes to the categorisations could result in the potential for some comparative data to be lost. There were 16 categories but the number was not restricted and any change would be dependent upon the user inputting the correct category. She explained that absences could sometimes start because of one issue but develop and fluctuate over time. Therefore, whilst a work related issue may exacerbate a situation and become a tipping point for an absence, it may not be the biggest issue. There were often multiple factors and it could be difficult to categorise into a work related or non-work related issue.
The Member acknowledged that although changing the categories may be challenging, if it created a more effective baseline, it could replace the previous baseline data. Where the introduction of additional baselines allowed for more effective targeted interventions then it was more worthwhile. Data ought to be changed if found to be ineffective in providing the information that was needed.
The Group Manager, Human Resources and Organisational Development confirmed that improvements were always being sought and movements were being made to explore Managers inputting the data. She added that there were a number of other authorities who used the same absence system and it could be useful to benchmark at what had worked successfully for them.
A Member referred to page 22 and raised a query with regard to the relatively high figures shown in graph 3 regarding absences within Schools and the Social Services and Wellbeing Directorate. He acknowledged that employees within the Directorate worked with elderly people and worked indoors throughout the pandemic, but that there had still been a problem prior to Covid-19. He felt this needed to be drilled down for this particular Directorate as to the reasons.
The Corporate Director, Education and Family Support confirmed thatquarter 3 was always a challenging quarter; whether because it fell over the winter months or something else and within schools, quarter 3 had higher absence rates than other times. It had been a very difficult year for a number of front line services and for schools, it was a particularly difficult time with learners in and out of school, ... view the full minutes text for item 12.
To consider any item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in
accordance with Part 4 (paragraph 4) of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency.