WSCC has announced its intention to open what it is calling a ‘Voluntary Severance’ window for staff from 1st-30th September.
Members who have worked at the council for a while will be more familiar with the term ‘Voluntary Redundancy’ (VR), and despite the name change, for staff with more than 2 years’ service the scheme will operate like the last corporate-wide Voluntary Redundancy window.
UNISON was pre-advised of the intention to open a VR window, though at short notice 2 days before the staff announcement. We had 2 meetings on it with HR and exchanged correspondence with the Chief Exec.
UNISON does have concerns:
- We have not yet seen the mechanism to ensure that staff who remain at the council do not end up with additional work because colleagues have left. The scheme’s initial documentation is clear this will be developed during August. UNISON has asked for sight of proposals and the chance to comment, and this has been agreed;
- We do not know how staff with less than 2 years’ service will be compensated. We will be asking for a mechanism which is consistent, equitable, and fair to all staff;
- This corporate VR window will be opened to all staff. This may raise expectations and only lead to disappointment for some, because staff will need to demonstrate that the work they do can be safely ceased or diminished. The council already has recruitment problems in significant areas of Family and Adults’ Operations. It is not in a position to let staff leave, even with a pressing need to save money due to continuing but unnecessary central government austerity.
If the council approves VR requests without sufficient consideration for the consequences to services and the staff who remain, staff could come under severe and unsustainable pressure at work. Decisions made must be the correct ones, not just for individuals (who may be in some circumstances very keen to leave the council), but also for their service and colleagues. To be fair to the council, the scheme documentation makes clear that this is a concern for the council too which they need to get right. We will be working with them on your behalf to ensure the scheme is as robust as possible in this regard.
We ask members to look out for their branch emails and news during this period over the next few months, as much is happening at the council, including an expected response to parking proposals put out to consultation in July.
The branch is setting up free financial advice and pension advice surgeries for members during the first half of September. Sessions will be allocated on a strictly first come, first served basis. Look out for details on those.
Members who want more information or have questions or concerns are asked in the first instance to contact their workplace rep. Alternatively, the branch office is of course operational as normal throughout August.