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0 votes
So, potential for a locum clerk to be engaged to fill a gap whilst awaiting recruitment process.
It is stated by the PC chair that any discussion of hours, terms of employment, renumeration must be “confidential.”

I think not since any contract fees must be declared on monthly payment schedule, standard spinal points are published / open source and generally, clerk ToRs /JD are open source on PC website.

Whether this potential temp position is classified as self employed contractor (which is vehemently opposed by NALC apparently since it is an organisational “officer” appointment) or is PAYE (since they will be the ONLY employee) either the gross salary or the contract fee will have to be disclosed monthly.
Ergo - how can discussion of the terms which (if approved) will have to be made public be classified as “confidential” whilst in the discussion stage?

Thoughts / comments??
by (21.8k points)

5 Answers

0 votes
I used to say to my councillors "if you have nothing to hide then why hide it?
by (10.3k points)
This is a PC with a history of “not understanding” and misusing the very specific parameters where press and public may be excluded.
With a new PC chair in Jul, there have been 3 consecutive meetings with “closed session” on the agenda.
It has been challenged twice and failed once with another closed session listed on agenda for this week.
In the 12 months preceding current chair there were zero closed sessions.
The original question was seeking opinion on whether the potential for an employment discussion could qualify as confidential when those details will, necessarily, be open source in the usual course of events.
Closed sessions can only be held if supported by a council motion.  The chair is not empowered to unilaterally decree that sessions or individual items a re closed.  A full council resolution must be sought to do that.
0 votes
I appreciate I work for a small council and were very transparent.

How can the role even be advertised if its all confidential ? What will be on the advert - there must be some guidance ?

Salaries need to be known by the council - or who can approve an unknown payment each month ??
by (2.9k points)
Yes - exactly! That is exactly the point which has been raised.
It almost seems TOO obvious to even have to ask the question but still there appears to be an insistence to have a closed session.
Defies logic!
0 votes
There are a couple of issues here.  Firstly contractor vs employee.  Having recently gone through this exercise, unless the appointment is literally for just a few weeks, most professional locums prefer to be employed, i.e. via PAYE as this makes a lot of functions easier such as access to the bank etc.    If the appointment is to cover a short period (no more than a month or so), then contractor status is acceptable (even to NALC).   Employed status implies payment as per agreed salary scales, even if the level on that scale is different from the proposed permanent clerk whereas contractor status suggests a contract rate which may not reflect the rate applicable to any of the salary scales.   In generic terms, in my view discussions about budgets and contractor vs employee wouldn't reflect personal details so why "confidential"?  And just to reiterate, where the discussion is confidential, the decision is not.

Once the first decision has been taken, i.e. employee vs contractor, then the selection process follows your usual procedures.  If an employee, then your usual recruitment procedures would prevail.  If a contractor, then your usual contract selection process would be appropriate.  In both cases, the point where you discuss an individual, then it becomes confidential but as I've said, the result is not confidential, albeit you should be a little wary of naming an individual (as oppose to a company, even if a contractor) followed by their remuneration in the minutes as this would breach GDPR rules.    And for the record, confidential does not mean excluding councillors, but excluding the public from the meeting room.

Payments can be reported in the same way you report any other payment.  If a contractor, it's on the payment schedule as usual.  if an employee, it is listed in the same way as you would normally list salary payments.  I agree there are differences of how this latter payment should be shown and for a small council whilst its a bit of a nonsense to withhold the information as it's going to be shown clearly on the AGAR at the year end anyway, it is not a payment that can be withheld as such so not one for "approval" by council.
by (19.6k points)
Well put - thank you
0 votes
As I often point out, the chair does not have elevated powers over other councillors apart from being able in isolation to call an EGM.  He/she is not entitled to unilaterally issue a decree about anything (make a decision).   It is a matter for the entire council to resolve whether or not the  hours, terms of employment, renumeration of a locum clerk fall under the definition of confidential information in accordance with schedule 12 of the Local Govt Act 1972.  As has been pointed by others, in reality there is no justification for these details to be deemed confidential, and in my view, the chair has an ulterior and unlawful motive here.
by (35.4k points)
As usual - spot on.
0 votes
Well, they did it - despite being advised otherwise the chair proposed and a majority vote carried the motion to exclude the press & public.
For all the good it did, parishioners easily guessed why this habitually secretive PC would want to conduct their business in secret.
The subject was the potential engagement of a temporary RFO.
The only reason to have that discussion in private would be to avoid the public outrage and reputational damage which was anticipated as being attached to the proposed candidate.
The clumsy and rather dim chair let the cat out of the bag BEFORE going into closed sessio by narrowing the field down to such a degree as to mean there really could only be 1 person in mind and it was easily “guessed” by public and posted to PC Facebook page thus wholly negating the closed session
You couldn’t make it up!
by (21.8k points)

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