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July 2014: Update from AoC Director of Employment Policy & Services

9th October 2020

After the busy end of term, the past fortnight has provided the team and I the opportunity to reflect on the last term and what we intend to do to continue to support members moving into the next academic year: 76% of members use the advice services of the employment helpline – we want to encourage those who are not familiar with our indemnified advice and guidance what we can do to support colleges locally on employment and workforce matters. Our continued attendance at regional HR networks remains critical to provide sector updates and to obtain feedback on key areas of our work. Negotiations begin on a number of joint agreements – performance, disciplinary and family leave arrangements (including the new parental leave changes in 2015) which we would encourage sector participation and feedback. Advocacy with sector stakeholders is becoming a priority for us to ensure that the workforce and employers’ collective voice is adequately represented. Pay strategy in further education Colleges in the new academic year can expect to receive a copy of the Incomes Data Services (IDS) commissioned research to support colleges in developing pay strategies. We will be putting the final touches to the report over the next few weeks and anticipate it will be available in September. The report consists of a number of college case studies which illustrate different practices, draws together a number of considerations to support colleges in the development of pay strategies and highlights good practice when drafting new schemes. This week, we have also secured IDS to speak at AoC’s flagship Annual Conference in November where they will discuss some of the key findings from their research. Employee engagement in further education A number of you who attended the AoC HR conference in March may recall Nita Clarke speaking on the main stage about the Engage for Success programme. Nita Clarke - AoC HR conference 2014 - Engage for Success.pdf Nita Clarke - AoC HR conference 2014 - Engage for Success.pdf (PDF,2.26 MB) In April the Intervention and Participation Association (IPA) published an interesting report which provided evidence that employee engagement in the NHS is linked to staff wellbeing, patient satisfaction and clinical outcomes such as mortality. Put simply, engaged staff deliver better, safer care. AoC are currently in discussions with IPA and intend to undertake a piece of work with them over the coming months looking at employee engagement in further education. As part of our this research, we are interested in speaking with colleges who have done work on employee engagement to evaluate the impact of staff engagement programmes in the sector and also to look at the key measures of success for such programmes. It is also considered valuable to assess how colleges see engagement as a strategic priority and to look at how organisations understand the capacity of their organisations to improve. If you are interested in participating in this piece of work then please do let me know. Exit payments and statutory claw back Government is considering establishing nationally determined rules requiring high paid employees that leave and re-join the same part of the public sector within a year to return some or all of any exit payments that they have received. These proposals would be taken forward in primary legislation as part of the Small Business Enterprise and Employment Bill with the measures being implemented no later than April 2016, with the final deadline to be decided following consultation. The proposals outline that exit payments will only be recovered for bodies defined by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) as being in the public sector with exceptions for the armed forces, national museums and nationalised banks. The proposal does not extend to organisations that are required by law to participate in public sector pension schemes but are classified by ONS as being in the private sector (e.g. colleges, universities). AoC will monitor the progress of the Bill as part of our advocacy and representation work. Keeping children safe in education Last month we tabled the following parliamentary question following our ongoing debate with the Department for Education regarding the redrafting of the Keeping Children Safe in Education guidance: “To ask the Secretary of State for Education if he is satisfied that the recent guidance Keeping children safe in education distinguishes which legislation applies to further education colleges as opposed to sixth form colleges; and if he will make a statement” The following response was provided: “The Department for Education's 'Keeping Children Safe in Education' guidance is clear that it applies to children under the age of 18 in both further education and sixth-form colleges. We are currently considering requests for clarification to the guidance as part of our implementation review.” The response implies the guidance is not subject to immediate review, however it is worth noting that the reference to consider requests for clarification illustrates that this concern has been raised by other organisations. Colleges are encouraged to provide feedback on working with the revised guidance for us to consider whether we continue to pursue this issue with the Department. Employment Law conference 2014 Looking ahead to the new academic year and ensuring that your HR processes are legally ship-shape, the AoC Employment Law Conference will be held on 9 October 2014. Delegates will have the opportunity to interact with numerous legal practitioners and find out the answers to knotty employment law issues, as well as check whether your policies and procedures are legally compliant. Colleges need to take steps in the autumn to be ready for employment law changes coming into effect in 2015. Delegates can choose from break-out sessions on sector-specific issues such as safeguarding, as well as risk management of common but often complex employment issues such as redundancy and restructuring. You can register for the conference on our website, as well as view the conference programme and all other details about the conference. And finally A number of case law reviews are being drafted by the team to support colleges to understand the impact of recent case law decisions, the first of which to be published is McMillan v Airedale NHS Foundation Trust [2014] EWCA Civ 1031, an interesting case which concerns whether a disciplinary sanction on appeal can be increased. Further details will be provided on publication. Regards, Marc WhitworthActing Director of Employment Policy and Services 31 July 2014