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Protocol when referring matters to the Personnel Committee

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Following a Parish Council meeting, the Clerk has told the Chair that he felt bullied and undermined by some Councillors. The Chair has written to all Councillors stating that the matter is to be referred to the Personnel Committee. The Chair has added that she is ashamed that some Councillors have made the Clerk feel this way when he is thoroughly capable and competent.
Is it appropriate for the Chair to write in this way before the Personnel Committee has considered the matter? The Chair did not call any behaviour out during the meeting, and no details have been provided in the email.
asked by (1.1k points)

1 Answer

0 votes
It’s better to try to settle this internally as the Clerk could lodge a complaint to the Monitoring Officer

I assume the meeting wasn’t recorded as if it had then this would be far easier to resolve

Recording also has the effect of moderating all participants behaviour
I was accused by two Councillors of lying at a meeting they could have lodged a complaint and won had it not been for the fact that I record all meetings myself
answered by (3.7k points)
Thank you Jules. I agree it is better to sort this out internally, and I don't condone bullying. I have seen behaviour at some Parish Council meetings which would not be tolerated in most work places.

I suppose I am uneasy that, if there was bullying during the meeting,  the Chair made no comment at the time but now appears, by the language in the letter, to be backing the clerk's claims even though the Personnel Committe is yet to consider the matter.

The meeting was recorded, but this was stated to be for the purpose of preparing the minutes. I believe, under data protection law, the lack of transparency, means it cannot automatically be used for another purpose by the Personnel Committee.
I'd be surprised if data protection means that the personnel committee cannot use the recording to help it investigate the complaint.  There might be a problem if it was to be released to an outside body but keeping it within Council should be fine.  I'd be tempted to get members to sit down and watch the recording together - it will soon become clear whether the clerk is being over sensitive or members are bullying.  Either way it might prompt a few apologies and prevent the need to involve the MO.
There are no data protection issues as the Act clearly allows anyone to record a meeting and use the recording for what ever purpose they want
Irrespective of whether the PC records the meeting the public should be warned about this on the Agenda and by the Chair
We were told that Councillors had to register under the DPA if they recorded meetings but it was untrue and just another attempt to prevent us having an accurate record
Our Standing Orders make it clear that if we move into Confidential session all recording stops
Personally I’d prefer the Council to continue to record as those sessions are generally the most contentious ones
Jules, I'm afraid I agree with the advice you received that your PC should be registered with the ICO. In addition to to the sound and visual images, do you not hold other personal information such as names, email addresses etc of Councillors, contractors and parishioners?
Transparency is a key requirement under the Act. People have a right to know in advance how their information will be used. If consent is not given on a fully informed basis, it is generally invalid. So,  in our case, if we say we are recording the meeting for the purpose of the minutes, we won't have consent to use the recording for any other purpose.
I am aware that there was a case last year of a company which had CCTV in its staff room. The signs said this was for security purposes (items had previously been stolen from the fridge). A staff member was (correctly) accused of writing offensive graffiti in the room and the internal disciplinary committee viewed the CCTV as part of his disciplinary procedure. The staff member took them to the High Court for doing do, and the court agreed that the disciplinary committee was not viewing the recording for security purposes, but for disciplinary purposes, and had breached the Act. I am assuming the same would apply here.

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