29 February 2012

HR Policy - Phone a friend

Who wants to be a millionaire? consultants to Barnet Council.

looks like a blogger reading an FOI answer
Mr Mustard enquired under FOI about Chas Dowden Solutions Ltd. They have already provided, via Huxley Associates, Mr Charles Dowden to work on HR policy and then all of a sudden more HR Policy advice is needed as is evidenced in the following email exchange:

Emails Sarah Murphy-Brookman / Chas Dowden Solutions Ltd - Barnet Council

Now what this email shows you is that "consultants" regard themselves to be so much a part of the staff that they write emails that are to the benefit of their Limited company using the Barnet Council email system.

This email also shows a remarkably casual way of procuring temporary help. Mr Mustard has seen many documents which talk about the Hays contract which acts as an umbrella for 100 or so employment agencies. It looks like Hays have been done out of some fees and that a new supplier has simply jumped onto the procurement system. There is a rule that more than 25% of a supplier's business should not come from Barnet Council. Chas Dowden Solutions Ltd certainly fail that test.

Item 2 shows that whilst Chas is busy billing £350 a day to Barnet Council he is at the same time going to supervise another consultant whom he has introduced and this supervision is included in the price. Hang on; doesn't that mean that Chas gets paid twice for the time he spends supervising Amanda?

We might as well look at what she was doing. 

Phase Policies Ready for LBB sign-off Sent to Trade Unions
1 Capability Discipline Grievance 22rd October 2010 29th October 2010
2 Absence Management 5th November 2010 12th November 2010
3 Family Friendly Policies 19th November 2010 26th November 2010
4 Time-off 3' December 2010 10th December 2010
5 Equal Opportunities 17th December 2010 24th December 2010

Phase Consultation Implemented
1 1st November 2010 30th January 2011 7th February 2011
2 15th November 2010 13th February 2011 21st February 2011
3 29th November 2010 27th February 2011 7th March 2011
4 13th December 2010 20th March 2011 28th March 2011
5 29th December 2010 27th March 2011 1st April 2011

Phase 1 Capability Procedure

III Health Capability Procedure

Teaching Staff Ill Health Capability Procedure

Headteachers Employed in Schools with Delegated Budgets (voluntary aided).

Teachers Employed in Schools with Delegated Budgets

Centrally Employed Staff Under Teachers Pay and Conditions

Teachers Employed Centrally by the LEA


Headteachers Employed by the LBB in Schools with Delegated Budgets

Teachers Employed in Schools with Delegated Budgets

School Based APT&C and Manual Staff Employed in Schools with Delegated Budgets

Teachers Employed by the LBB in a Central or Peripatetic Capacity


Bullying and Harassment

Grievance Procedure For School Based Staff

Harassment/ Dignity at Work for Schools

Phase 2 Attendance management processes inc. Fit Notes

Problem Drinking

Sick leave and sick pay schemes
Phase 3 Maternity provisions

Paternity Provisions

Child Care


Parental Leave

Flexible Working

Job Share


Adoption and Long Term Fostering Provisions - Teachers

Phase 4 Time off arrangements

Health and Safety Representatives

Special Leave

Trade Union Purposes

Agreement on Facilities for Representatives of Recognised Teacher Organisations

Phase 5 Equal Opportunities

Policy Statement

Management and Staff Responsibilities

The Employment of People with Disabilities

Making Reasonable Adjustments for Employees

Recommended additional work

Phase 6

4-28 Jan 2011

- Identify "missing" policies

- List all standard letters that need producing to support Phases 1-5.

- Identify guidance / Desk Aids that are needed to support Phases 1-5.

- Identify all existing policies that need re-branding.

- Produce report which provides this information

Resource needed:- 9 days

Phase 7

31 Jan— 25 Feb

- Produce policies identified and agreed as "missing"

- Submit for consultation with Trade Union as required.

Resource needed:- 12 days

Phase 8

28 Feb - 1 April

- Produce Employee handbook to an agreed format, subject to consultation.

- All policies consistently formatted and branded

Resource needed:- 12 days

Phase 9

4 April —3 June

- Produce standard letters and Desk Aids for all policies as necessary

- Support implementation of Phase 1-5 policies from 4 April.

- Support the review of contracts and offer letters to align to Handbook and revised policies.

Resource needed:­24 days

The documents arrived as pdfs when they were obviously once word documents (and really should have been excel documents) and this is part of the plan to make information harder to use as one witness to the Justice Committee on FOI remarked. Mr Mustard simply puts the pdfs through a conversion programme.

Phase 9 was not accepted.

Now Mr Mustard looked for the payments for this work. Phases 6-8 cost £7,425 and yet no payments were listed to Chas Dowden Solutions Ltd. Mr Mustard's theory is that the payments have been made directly to Amanda Mays and have been redacted as she is being treated as a self employed person.

There are two problems if that was the approach. 

The first is that the details of self employed business people should not be redacted and they frequently are at Barnet Council.

The second problem is that Amanda has been working under supervision and so she sounds like an employee. It will be a question for HM Revenue and Customs, when they get around to the PAYE compliance check at Barnet Council, as to whether Amanda should have been on the council payroll or if Chas Dowden Solutions Ltd should have deducted PAYE or if she was genuinely self-employed. Let us hope the income has been declared somewhere.

Mr Mustard asked to see the contract for the provision of these services. Here is the terrible answer:

For your information I have attached a copy of the previous contract which is set out across the 3 attached documents and relates to the provision of the services of Amanda Mays for 8 phases of work in relation to assistance on work on HR policies.

The 3 documents were the emails and the spreadsheets ( slightly changed in presentation but accurately copies ) which are repeated above.

So where is there a proper contact which ought to exist in order to comply with Rule 4.1.13 of the Contract Procedure Rules?

- to keep a register of contracts over £5,000, which (1) may be inspected by a member of the Council at at any time during office hours, and (2) will support the annual budget review.

Procurement in HR is not setting not a good example to other departments, now is it?

Yours frugally

Mr Mustard

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