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0 votes
The host for the PC website has an issue with his business and the PC need to change web site providers. The website can be migrated to a new host for a cost of £299 if the new host has the admin password, without it, the PC will have to build a new website at the cost of around £2,500. The clerk who holds the admin password has gone on strike and refuses to give the PC the admin password, the current host of the website cannot be contacted. Is the clerk under any obligation to hand over the admin password and any other passwords she may hold for other PC  licences to enable the PC to progress its business whilst she is on strike?
by (160 points)

2 Answers

0 votes
I think this is a two stage process.

First of all:

 What do you mean by "on strike"?

Is the Clerk being paid while they are "on strike"?

What is the dispute about?

Is a grievance/disciplinary procedure in progress?
by (10.6k points)
The locum clerk who has been in place for 9months,  has been claiming more than her contracted hours without getting any permission to do so. She appears to have been altering the pay roll again without permission. This “error” has been discovered and the PC has only agreed to pay her contracted hours. She walked out of the last meeting and has refused to do further work until her overtime has been paid. She is also refusing to give the passwords until the PC has paid her overtime. I am no expert, but to me this looks like extortion at the very least?
+1 vote
Your details are a littler confusing. I assume that the website is paid for and run on behalf of the PC. Is your clerk on an official union sanction industrial action? if not then they cannot be on strike. If you clerk is just being obstructive then they would surely leave themselves to being in breach of their contract of employment and open to disciplinary action which could end in dismissal. All details of passwords etc. belong to the PC not the clerk. If by  refusing to  hand them to the council again  left open to disciplinary procedures. There is to consider also by blocking the councils access to management of their website and forcing extra costs on the council by their action could leave themselves liable for those costs in a court of law.
by (27.5k points)
No not an official union strike, she walked out of the last meeting and is refusing to do anymore work or hand over the passwords until her unagreed overtime has been paid. The PC have paid her contracted hours and would pay her overtime if she could produce evidence that the overtime had been formally requested and minuted as requested by the PC. So far, she has failed to be able to do so.
All comes down to employment and procedures. You say the clerk is a locum so you need to look at their employment conditions or contract if they are self employed. They have put themselves into a negative position by refusing to hand over data that belongs to the PC and attempting to use the access codes as a bargaining chip . Very unprofessional and ultimately could cost them a lot of money. Was the employment vetted by PC employment group and what does the clerks contract state- Back to basics dive into the details agreed for the employment with a fine tooth comb. Also check if the locum came via your local association and if so seek help from them.
The employment was not vetted by the employment committee, the PC chairman just appointed her. The clerk came through an advert through the Local Council Association, another candidate did apply but was not even responded to, let alone interviewed. Whilst being employed as a locum, the clerk passed her exams and the Local Council Association poster praises about this all over their news letter. Several residents were very concerned about the situation and “exercised their rights” back in June viewing her contract which clearly states 12 hours a week and accounts which she had paid, some of which didn’t even have dates on them! I am truly amazed at how a locum clerk can reap such devastation in a community with virtually no means of redress other than through a dysfunctional  PC.
dysfunctional  PC.

That's the root of your problem!

I would suggest your chair might also hold personal liability if they unilaterally engaged a contract which was not ratified by delegated committee or the PC.

Not at all uncommon to see clerk / locum holding a PC to ransom.  What will probably follow is an attempt at a confidentiality agreement so that the person isn't "disadvantaged" from continuing their poor behaviour in other PCs.
Yes, I agree about the root of the problem. It’s a very complex and probably near unique problem and difficult to say any more without identifying the PC involved. I will be setting up a group in the new year to look into “lessons learnt” as this scenario has had terrible consequences for just about every voluntary group in our community and it should not be allowed to happen again.
I am very concerned about your mention of a “confidentiality agreement” as this should not be allowed to happen to any other community. I am not sure such an agreement will be allowed to happen if there are serious legal implications which may have to be followed through.
I think you would be surprised / startled to discover that what you describe, rather than being unique,  is scarily common!  I'll PM you a link.
Thanks - happy to be a little more open in private.
One moment you describe a locum and the next you talk about the clerk.  Which is it?  There's clearly alot more to this than has been suggested.  I'd strongly recommend getting some proper advice and guidance on both the employment issues and the more practical side and stop worrying about a website until you get the operational side of running the pc in line.  Are you members of NALC?  Can their county office help here?
It’s a locum clerk, professional advise and support from NALC local office, legal advise taken on employment issue and the operational side of the PC business is now on track. The PC does however need to get admin passwords for web site and other software to prevent destruction of records. It’s always useful to know how others have dealt with such situations. Thanks for the comments.
Was the locum recommended or arranged through you local NALC office? if so then you must inform them of the situation as they will have received a commission from the locum and must  take responsibility for those they professionally promote to Parish councils and should carry liability insurance.
Yes, the PC advertised on the region's Local Council Association advertising board, and paid £15 for the advert, I am unaware that the locum paid comission. Two clerks actually applied but one was never interviewed. The Local Council Association know about the situation but as you say, have a vested interest. I am very concerned about this developing situation which to me included more than en element of extortion.

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