UNISON has today responded to the Council on plans to alter the appeal process for the above policy. Previously if employees asked to change their working hours due to caring commitments etc and were refused we had a three stage right of appeal, with the third stage being direct to the Councillors. The Council have written to us indicating that due to a legislative change which requires all appeals on this policy to be heard within three months, they are changing the process to only one right of appeal to management.

Frustratingly, not only do we have to deal with a serious change to policy that will have implications for dozens of members in future years, but it has been done without consultation of any kind.

If the Council are happy to alter this policy without consultation, what policy will be next?

If you read our response (below) you will understand how this issue has the potential to affect our members.

Dear Heather,

Flexible Workstyle Options Policy

With reference to your letter of 20 June 2014, I write to advise of considerable concerns that the Joint Trade Unions (JTU) have with your proposals.

Firstly, I must advise that we are concerned about the complete lack of consultation on this matter. Any change to policies should be negotiated with the Joint Trade Unions as part of collective bargaining and I am disappointed that the Council does not recognise this.

For ease of reference I have broken down other issues/questions that we have:-

  • Why is the Council unable to meet the 3 month deadline? What evidence shows this?
  • Can you provide us with a copy of the legal advice that allowed you to come to this decision?
  • What “officer level” would hear these appeals?
  • Has the Council done an equality impact assessment?
  • As above, is the Council not concerned about limiting the appeals process in a policy that is likely to be predominantly accessed by women, where other policies have full access to the appeals/grievance mechanism?

I would reiterate our strong concerns over these changes and would ask that they are not implemented until such times as we receive responses to the above.

As this only reinforces our concerns over lack of meaningful consultation with the Council, I have copied this letter to Gavin Whitefield, Chief Executive; Jim McCabe, Leader of the Council; and Stephen Grant, Convenor of Policy & Resources (Human Resources).

I look forward to your response

John Mooney