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Should a Personnel Committee publish minutes?

0 votes
I understand that details of this committee may require elements of confidentiality, however it would seem that as 50% of our precept is spent on Salaries/wages that a certain amount of openness is required. I am not on this committee but feel that minutes should be realised noting the areas under discussion and the resolutions listed, but without detail.

I am concerned at the level of secrecy involved with pay, indeed our Clerk's contract being the biggest; no idea how much the Clerk is paid, only the total salary commitment that includes other employees.
asked by (1.3k points)

3 Answers

0 votes
All agendas and minutes for every parish council committee must be published without exception.  The issue with Personnel Committee minutes is that this legal requirement clashes with the Data Protection Act.  Therefore the minutes must state the items under discussion and the decision but must be edited so that the DPA is not affected i.e, "it was RESOLVED that the Parish Clerk receive an increase in the salary by 1 spinal point to reflect the CiLCA qualification" - this would show that the clerk received an increase but would not breach the Data Protection Act by stating how much exactly the Clerk was paid.

With regards to the exact salary of the Clerk, the main reason for having a personnel committee is to act with delegated authority on items such as salary levels on behalf of the parish council.  No other councillors have the right to know what the Clerk is paid as they have passed the authority to act to the committee.  However, it is not unreasonable to ask and see a redacted copy of their contract so that you are aware of the terms of their employment in regards to holiday, sickness, maternity entitlement etc.  Most Clerks are employed under the SLCC model contract terms anyway....

The only other way for you to know how much the Clerk is paid is to join the personnel committee....
answered by (8.1k points)
0 votes
I'm not at all sure about this but in my opinion councillors are employers and as such should know how much is paid to all employees. Also who is accountable for this, my view is that it is public money and all councillors should be fully aware on how it's being spent. I would have thought that any agreement made by the committee would then come to full council, where it can be declared as confidential and all members of the public are asked to leave. Kath
answered by (400 points)
At a recent training course, the ALC legal eagle said that any councillor can attend any committee meeting as an observer. This includes the Personnel committee and indeed our clerk gives every councillor at Full council a copy of the Personnel committee minutes, when they can be adopted. They are heavily annotated as confidential of course meanwhile the public get a redacted copy of the same minutes (if they can be bothered to turn up of course).

Keeping two sets of minutes means that any member of the public can demand to see the minutes and is able to read the redacted Personnel committee minutes along with the other minutes. The full Personnel committee minutes are kept separately, but available for councillors to view if required.
Thank you for your very useful comments. What is the ALC and would I be able to contact them directly?
I think this is meant to read NA LC which is the National Association of Local Councils They provide Parish and Town Councils with their Standing Orders. You should be able to contact them direct, you just need to find the one in your area.
Thank you for the clarification.
'All agendas and minutes for every parish council committee must be published without exception.' - Where does this principle come from? I have asked my NALC local rep and she has basically said that the Personnel Committee can keep agendas and minutes confidential. I am now very confused, the Parish rules seem to be a law unto themselves which leads to mis -management. It appears that having high standards and transparency is an option.
+1 vote

'All agendas and minutes for every parish council committee must be published without exception.' - Where does this principle come from?

Under the Local Government Act 1972, local electors have a statutory right to inspect minutes of the whole council, committees and sub committees.  This is reflected again in the Freedom of Information Act 2000.  The difficulty with a personnel committee is when the information being discussed falls under the Data Protection Act 1998 which trumps the other two.  However, I cannot see any reason as to why an agenda should be confidential or why minutes as a whole are confidential.  I am a clerk and our personnel committee meetings are about me and I have no issue with writing the minutes in such a way that my personal and private business is not broadcasted but that the essence of the discussion and final decision are recorded and placed in the public domain. 

It is a balancing act but one that you have to maintain in order to have transparency.

answered by (8.1k points)

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