New measures proposed to support staff through change programme

Proposals detailing how the City of Edinburgh Council will support staff through an ambitious programme of change have been revealed.

The report follows an announcement earlier in the year that the Council is to transform the organisation’s structure and the way it delivers its services, to become more efficient and citizen-focused, while addressing significant financial challenges.

This transformation will see the creation of a new operating model that will provide services through four localities, with more emphasis on local decision-making. It will also allow for more consistent and ‘joined up’ working with partners such as Police Scotland and NHS Lothian.

The Council must reduce costs of at least £107m over the next five years. In order to achieve this and protect the future of front-line services, staff roles are to be reduced across the organisation. The proposed restructuring to move to a four localities model will lead to the reduction of 946 roles, most of which will be management level.

The latest proposals recommend developing revised terms of voluntary release, along with the creation of a new Career Transition Service to support those affected by the changes as they move to new roles. If agreed by Council on 25 June, the recommendations will then be taken forward for consultation with trade unions and staff.

In order to protect staff on lower pay, a new minimum early release payment has been proposed. Employees will have the option to accept early release terms above the statutory requirements, taking into account the number of years’ service and whether they have immediate access to a pension.

The new Career Transition Service will be run by the Council in partnership with a specialist external provider. This service will help to identify any other opportunities that may exist within the organisation and offer expert guidance to help employees move to roles outside of the Council. Practical training covering themes such as developing CVs, interview skills, managing change and wellbeing will be offered. Those with other aspirations, such as setting up their own business or going into further education, will also receive guidance to help them towards these goals.

Convener of the Finance and Resources Committee, Councillor Alasdair Rankin, said: “The Council is facing unprecedented financial challenges and we have no choice but to change the way we work if we are to protect front line services for the people of Edinburgh.

“By simplifying the Council’s structure we can focus more on local decision making and respond more quickly and efficiently to meet the needs of our citizens. This will also help us to work better with our partner organisations, many of whom use a similar, locality-based structure.

“Modernising and streamlining our processes will reduce the number of roles across the Council. I appreciate that change on this scale can be unsettling for staff and it is vital that we make sure those affected are given support to explore their options for the future. Making sure that employees on lower pay scales are protected if they choose to accept voluntary redundancy is also a key priority.

“We will continue to engage and consult with staff and trade unions as these proposals are developed further.”

Councillors will consider the proposals on Thursday 25 June 2015 as part of a report on the progress of the Council Transformation Programme. The report also includes an update on the development of the new organisational structure agreed in December 2014.

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