Agenda and draft minutes

Personnel Committee - Tuesday, 16th April, 2024 10.00 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Blackdown House, Honiton

Contact: Debbie Meakin 


No. Item


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 304 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting held on the 21st January 2024.


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 29 January 2024 were agreed.


Declarations of interest

Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest





Public speaking




Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online





Confidential/exempt item(s)

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the Press) have been excluded.  There is one item which officers recommend should be dealt with in this way.


One item was agreed to be discussed after the exclusion of press and public, detailed under minute 38.


CEO Recruitment update

A verbal update from the Corporate Lead – Human Resources.


The Corporate Lead – Human Resources verbally updated the Committee on the recruitment process for the role of Chief Executive.


Following the closing date of 5 April, the advertisement campaign had received a good response, with positive feedback.  The interviewing process, of which the Interviewing Sub Committee were part of, would take place on the 24th and 25th April. The Sub Committee would then recommend to Council their recommendation of candidate for the role on 8 May.


The details of the number of applications would be included in the full report to Council, but could not be shared at the meeting.


The committee noted the update.


HR Policy Review - Performance Improvement Policy pdf icon PDF 598 KB


The Committee were asked to approve the revision of an existing policy.  The existing policy, named the Dealing with Unsatisfactory Performance Policy, had a number of revisions, including a change of name to Performance Improvement Policy.  The change of name helped to better reflect the purpose of the policy.


The response from Unison on the revisions were shared with the Committee at the meeting, summarised as:

·        Paragraph 6 relating to confidentiality – Unison felt that there were some circumstances whereby an officer should be able to discuss with other members of their team the performance issue.  The committee were advised that the policy did not prevent an officer from discussing work related issues with other team members, but that the procedure being followed under the policy should not be shared and remain confidential;

·        Paragraph 12.4 – Unison requested that the ability to have a solicitor present should be included.  Legal advice was that this should not be included in the policy

·        Paragraph 5 already covered Unison request for an interpreter;

·        Paragraph 14.3 – Unison request for a recording of meetings.  Again legal advice and best practice was not to record the meetings; but a record in the form of minutes taken or a formal letter recording the discussion would be undertaken, as per the existing policy.


During discussion, some clarifications were sought over making an accurate record of meetings, and who could accompany the officer to those.  An officer had the right under the policy to be accompanied and also have another present to assist with any reasonable adjustments required.


RESOLVED To approve the Performance Improvement Policy, subject to final amendments agreed between the Corporate Lead – Human Resources and the Chair and Vice Chair of the Personnel Committee.


People Data pdf icon PDF 215 KB

Additional documents:


The Committee received the People Data report for the period up to 29 February 2024.


Highlighted in the report were:

·       Market supplement numbers have not changed since December and remain at 11; however the next report will reflect an increase in the next period due to a new surveyor market supplement in Housing which has recently been agreed;

·       Vacancies are at 44 compared to 29 in December. Appointments have been made to 10 of these vacancies and start dates have been agreed in the forthcoming weeks;

·       The average time taken to fill vacancies has decreased from 72.83 days to 61.69 days since December. Benchmarking data indicates that c100 days is around the average time taken by organisations to fill posts;

·        We are beginning to see a return to pre-pandemic turnover rates and the current forecast for cumulative voluntary turnover for 2023/24 is 8.85% which is lower than pre-pandemic rates;

·        Sickness absence levels are continuing at a similar level to those reported from December to February. The projected forecast is currently 9.76 days, which is still above the end of year absence target of 8.5 days per FTE.


The Committee discussed obtaining some form of benchmarking data, recognising the difficulties in other authorities supplying such data, and differing service delivery across local authorities. The Committee was advised that the LGA/South West Councils were exploring a new benchmarking service which would assist with this in the future.


Workforce planning was key in helping the authority to be robust to changes in future years.  The HR service continued to monitor and assist service areas with workforce planning.


Issues around recruitment were still an issue for local authorities for more specialised roles, such as surveyors and solicitors.  Other specialised roles such as environmental health and planning were still difficult to recruit, but some developments such as the LGA’s “Pathways to Planning” were helping, in response to a national shortage, and the Council was engaged with this programme.


Breakdown of paygrades against the FTE workforce would be provided in the annual people data report to the Committee.


A request was made for headcount figures prior to the relocation to the current offices used by the Council.  This figure was not readily available; however, some anecdotal evidence was offered by both officers and Members on the low levels of staff in previous years; increases in recent years had been in accordance with budgetary requests agreed by Council.


The Committee endorsed the report.



Local Government (Access to Information) Act 1985 - Exclusion of Press and Public

The Vice Chair to move the following:

that under Section 100(A) (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public (including the press) be excluded from the meeting as exempt information, of the description set out on the agenda, is likely to be disclosed and on balance the public interest is in discussing this item in private session (Part B)”.



The Committee agreed to go into private session for the next item.


Request for additional funding and resource within the HR and Payroll Service


The Committee considered the report setting out the establishment of a new ‘Grow Our Own’ budget to support the Council’s Grow Our Own strategy, and a new post of HR Operations Manager.



1.     that the Grow Our Own budget of £143,000 be approved, to sit within the HR and Payroll Service

2.     that funding for a new post of HR Operations Manager of £76,000 be approved.