Agenda and minutes

Organisation Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 29th September, 2020 10.00 am

Venue: by Conference Call. Access credentials to the meeting will be sent to you separately. The public parts of the meeting will be streamed from the Council's website.

Contact: Damon Stanton  01246 217011

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


An apology for absence was received from Councillor P R Kerry.


Declarations of Interest

Members are requested to declare the existence and nature of any disclosable pecuniary interests and/or other interests, not already on their register of interests, in any item on the agenda and withdraw from the meeting at the appropriate time.


No Interests were declared at this meeting.



Minutes of Last Meeting pdf icon PDF 211 KB

To approve as a correct record and the Chair to sign the Minutes of the Organisation Scrutiny Committee held on 4 August 2020.


RESOLVED – That the Minutes of the meeting of the Organisation Scrutiny Committee held on 4 August 2020 be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.


Impact of Pandemic - Update from HR Manager

Verbal Update


The HR and OD Manager was present at the meeting to update the Committee on the impact of the Pandemic on the Council’s staff.


Members heard that since the start of the Pandemic, no employees of North East Derbyshire District Council had tested positive for Covid-19. There had also been 96 employees who self-isolated, and 27 employees who had shielded during the shielding period up to 01 August.


The officer informed the Committee that a homeworking survey had been distributed to staff. There had been 155 responses. It was stated that the majority of staff continued to work from home, but some staff had returned to the office on hybrid arrangements. Members also noted that a homeworking group had been established by SAMT.


The Committee discussed the existing working from home arrangements prior to the Pandemic. Members noted that ad-hoc arrangements had been put in place following the government’s instructions to work from home in March, and concerns were raised in regards to inconsistencies within ad-hoc arrangements.


The Committee heard that sickness absence had reduced, with 1.17 days lost in the last quarter compared to 2.28 days lost in the same quarter last year. It was stated that there could be a number of reasons for this including reduced social interaction, and the ability to manage time better at home. The Committee also discussed redeployment of some Council staff who were unable to work from home during the Pandemic, and that productivity and delivery of service was maintained by staff at home.


RESOLVED – That the update be noted.



Scrutiny Review pdf icon PDF 128 KB

·         To approve the Project Plan and Timetable for the Review

·         To consider the Working from Home Policy and associated documents

·         Selection of Bulletins

·         Drafting of Questions


Additional documents:


The Committee considered the Draft Project Plan and Timetable.


The Overview and Scrutiny Manager informed Members that an advert had been placed on the extranet inviting staff to talk with the Committee. Further interviews had also been incorporated into the Timetable.


Members proposed changes to the Draft Project Plan. Under the aims and objectives of the review, the review should ensure that the policy was not only effective, but that it was being followed properly and fully by all managers in all areas. Under Key Issues, that the Committee not only look at the potential benefits but also the potential problems.


The Committee also considered the Working from Home Policy and the associated documents. The HR & OD Manager informed Members that the document was a relatively old one, and that a review was timely given changes to technology and the Pandemic. Members noted the processes in which the Draft Policy would need before approval, and it was agreed that the Draft Policy would be available for the Committee to provide comments on at its next meeting.


The Committee had a wide ranging discussion on the practicalities of employees working from home on a more regular basis, which included additional costs, insurance and maintaining a good service.


The Overview and Scrutiny Manager informed Members of a discussion session which would be taking place with staff, and that the Committee could submit any questions that they would like to ask via email.




(1)     That the Project Plan and Timetable for the Review be approved.


(2)   That the update be noted.




10.45 am – Rebecca Hutchinson – Health and Safety Co-ordinator


11.30 am – Presentation and Question & Answer Session –

                   Karen Hanson – Director of Environment and Enforcement


The Health and Safety Co-ordinator was present at the meeting to discuss the activities of the Health and Safety Team during the Lockdown.


Members noted that a series of guidance was produced for employees during the Pandemic, including the Covid-19 Protective Measures Guidance which was in its fourth issue. There had also been guidance on working from home, so that equipment was set up correctly and safely. The officer informed Members that all buildings were at Covid secure standards, and regular inspections were carried out to ensure that.


The Committee discussed mental health, and the impact of lockdown on staff. The officers informed Members of the support available to staff, which included an employee assistance programme with a dedicated helpline.


The Committee also requested that any further guidance be issued to them in addition to employees, due to Members working from home more frequently.


Members thanked the officers for attending the meeting.


The officers then left the meeting.


The Joint Director of Environment and Enforcement had joined the meeting to inform the Committee on the arrangements put in place following the Lockdown.


The Committee heard that following the Prime Minister’s announcement that a Lockdown was in place, the Council asked all staff to stay at home except those employees who were classed as a priority service.


It was stated that an emergency control room was established in the Members Room. Members noted that key officers then worked closely with a number of services, the Leader of the Council, Cabinet and Members to ensure that the Council’s services were maintained and ran smoothly.


The Committee was informed that a number of groups and sub-groups met regularly to handle the crisis locally, including a Local Resilience Forum and a Strategic Co-ordinating Group.


Member heard that a community support team was established, which assisted elderly and vulnerable residents in the District. The team contained staff members who were unable to work from home, such as leisure services. The contact team also made telephone contact with vulnerable residents.


The Committee noted that whilst most staff adapted to home working well, some staff found it more difficult and they were given additional mental health support. Members also heard that the Council distributed guidance and questionnaires to employees to ensure that their work stations were set up correctly, as poor set ups could have been detrimental to their physical health.


Members were also updated on furlough arrangements for some services, flexi-time, and communications on the extranet. The Joint Director of Environment and Enforcement concluded the presentation by explaining that working from home arrangements would be regularly reviewed, and that the offices remained Covid secure.


RESOLVED – That the update be noted.


Forward Plan of Executive Decisions - 15 August to 15 September 2020 pdf icon PDF 265 KB

To consider the Forward Plan of Executive Decisions.  The most up-to-date Forward Plan of Executive Decisions can be accessed via the following link:-  



AGREED – That the Forward Plan of Executive Decisions – 15 August to 15 September 2020 be noted.


Work Programme pdf icon PDF 187 KB

To consider the Work Programme for the Organisation Scrutiny Committee 2020/21 and review the proposed workload.


AGREED – That the Work Programme be noted.


Additional Urgent Items

To consider any other matter which the Chair of the meeting is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.


There were no urgent items to be discussed at the meeting.


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Organisation Scrutiny Committee is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 3 November 2020 at 10.00 am. 


The next meeting of the Organisation Scrutiny Committee is scheduled to take place on Tuesday 3 November 2020 at 10.00 am.