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Agenda item

Annual Workforce Report


Julie Foy, Director of Human Resources, introduced the Annual Workforce Report.


The following main points were noted in the discussion:


·       It was noted that over 1,000 working days had been lost to sickness absence for Covid-19; this peaked during the Omicron wave.

·       In relation to the previous scrutiny review of performance management, it was advised that a new approach was being developed. Further detail would be available in early 2023.

·       Officers summarised the council’s ‘Futurework’ arrangements, detailing which staff were required to work in the borough, and which were able to work from home.

·       Members queried the reasons behind the ethnicity pay gap and the council’s actions to improve diversity in the top quartile of earners. Officers explained that this was a priority for the council and a number of initiatives were underway as part of the Diverse Recruiter scheme. This included longstanding arrangements for anonymised applications, and new arrangements, such as the “internal first” approach to all job vacancies up to PO10 grade to promote career progression for internal staff. The Council had also introduced two leadership and management development qualifications and  these had been specifically targeted at colleagues from Black and Asian backgrounds. The ‘Black on Board’ scheme also sought to improve the diversity of internal board meetings. The Inclusive Mentoring Programme had also been well received and a second cohort would be launched soon. The Director of HR had been asked to co-chair a London-wide Tackling Racial Inequality programme for HR professionals and it was hoped this would lead to the further sharing of best practice. 

·       It was asked that secondment and acting up opportunities be detailed in future workforce reports to the committee.

·       Following a question on diverse recruitment panels, it was confirmed that there was a pool of staff available to participate in such panels where services were not able to provide a diverse recruitment panel from within their service.

·       The Committee requested further information on the council’s use of the apprenticeship levy, and if we undertake any transfer to SMEs.

·       It was queried how the council tracked improvements in productivity following the upskilling of staff. Officers explained how a new e-learning system was able to better track the training and development of staff, although it was not straightforward to attribute changes in productivity to particular development activities at an individual level. However, strategic discussions were underway on the skills staff need in order to increase performance across the organisation.

·       The Committee referenced the work of a task and finish group on the BAME pay gap and suggested that it would be helpful for that work to be circulated to the committee. It was noted that the ethnic profile of different council departments varied, and it would be helpful for future reports to track how this has changed over time. It was advised that the task and finish group was reporting into the Council’s Challenging Inequality Programme. Officers would consider how this could be best reported to the committee.

·       A discussion was had on gender disparities in different job roles and the need for all workplaces to be safe spaces for women. It was commented that the staff Women’s Network had held discussions on these issues and how to make more traditionally male-dominated services welcoming to women. 

·       Around 24% of staff were Islington residents, and this had increased year on year. The Committee suggested that targets could be set for increasing this further.

·       It was suggested that, due to an increase in remote working, council job vacancies were increasingly appealing to those living outside of London, and it was queried if this had an impact on the demographic profile of the council’s workforce. It was suggested that these issues could be taken forward through an Informal Working Group.

·       The Committee requested further data on the reasons for staff leaving their post. Officers noted that staff leaving the organisation were invited to give an exit interview. Members requested details of the main reasons given for leaving the council’s employment.

·       Members requested further information on the destinations and career progression of those on the council’s apprenticeship schemes, including those who had since left the council.  The Committee also requested data on the destinations and career progression of those the council had supported into apprenticeships offered by third parties. 

·       Members noted that ‘mental health’ was the most common reason for sickness absence and requested further information on the wellbeing offer available to staff. It was queried if the council held data on if absence due to mental health was work-related or due to external factors.




(i)   That the Annual Workforce report be noted;


(ii)  That progress against the existing ‘Islington as an Employer’ workstream of the Challenging Inequality Programme, and plans to deliver outstanding commitments, be noted.




As detailed above, the Committee requested:


·       Further information on the use of the apprenticeship levy;

·       A further discussion on the ethnicity pay gap, with reference to the work of the member task and finish group;

·       Further data on the reasons for staff leaving their post;

·       Further information on the destinations and career progression of those on internal and external apprenticeship programmes;

·       Further information on the staff wellbeing offer, and data on if absence related to mental health was work-related or due to other external factors.


Supporting documents: