As the Council’s Executive considers furloughing staff during the COVID-19 pandemic, will it commit to:-
1. Follow the lead of those Councils in Wales which are topping up furloughing payments to ensure staff do not lose out on wages;
2. Ensure that any decision to furlough staff isn’t targeted at the lowest paid but instead is one that looks fairly across the workforce and prioritises the delivery of vital public services;
3. Ensure that Trade Unions are consulted and engaged before any decision is made;
4. Undertake and publish an Equality Impact Assessment on the effect of the decision; and
5. Make sure the relevant scrutiny committee has the opportunity to consider the proposal ahead of any implementation?
Response by the Portfolio Holder:
The Chief Executive has taken the decision today to apply to the Job Retention Scheme for council staff who are funded from income which the Council is losing as a result of the current coronavirus pandemic. A communication (attached) has issued to all staff today. In making this decision the Chief Executive has discussed the proposal with the Cabinet and recognised Trade Unions who understand the need to apply for the scheme to help offset the council’s income loss. Only staff who are funded from income are eligible for the scheme and any that are furloughed will have their normal salary and pension contributions protected to ensure there is no financial detriment to them. In view of this and with the agreement of the Trade Unions the Chief Executive has determined that an Equality Impact Assessment is not required at this stage. This will be reviewed when the eligible staff have been identified and again if and when the UK Government makes any changes to the scheme. Consultation will take place with staff identified as eligible for furlough and in respect of schools’ and early years settings staff, consultation with schools’ governing bodies and management committees will be also need to be undertaken. Finally, the Finance Panel will be given the opportunity to consider the Council’s plans in June before any staff are furloughed, noting that further work is required ahead of implementation in respect of identifying staff and undertaking the necessary consultation.