Agenda and minutes

Employees' Consultative Forum - Wednesday 10 November 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Virtual Meeting - Online. View directions

Contact: Daksha Ghelani, Senior Democratic Services Officer  E-mail:


No. Item


Attendance by Reserve Members

To note the attendance at this meeting of any duly appointed Reserve Members.


Reserve Members may attend meetings:-


(i)            to take the place of an ordinary Member for whom they are a reserve;

(ii)          where the ordinary Member will be absent for the whole of the meeting; and

(iii)         the meeting notes at the start of the meeting at the item ‘Reserves’ that the Reserve Member is or will be attending as a reserve;

(iv)         if a Reserve Member whose intention to attend has been noted arrives after the commencement of the meeting, then that Reserve Member can only act as a Member from the start of the next item of business on the agenda after his/her arrival.

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RESOLVED:  To note that there were no Reserve Members in attendance.


Appointment of Vice-Chair

To appoint a Vice-Chair from the Employees’ side for the Municipal Year 2021/22.

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RESOLVED:  That Davis Searles, Harrow Unison, be appointed from the Employees’ side as Vice-Chair of the Employees’ Consultative Forum for the Municipal Year 2021/22.


Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 99 KB

To receive declarations of disclosable pecuniary or non pecuniary interests, arising from business to be transacted at this meeting, from:


(a)          all Members of the Forum;

(b)          all other Members present.

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RESOLVED:  To note that there were no declarations of interests made by Members at the meeting except that Councillor Angela Murphy-Strachan had submitted a non-pecuniary interest in respect of all the agenda items in that she was a member of the NASUWT (National Association of Schoolmasters’ Union of Women Teachers), as published on the Council’s website prior to the meeting.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 102 KB

That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2021 be taken as read and signed as a correct record.

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RESOLVED:  That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2021, be taken as read and signed as a correct record.


Petitions, Deputations and Public Questions

To receive petitions (if any) submitted by members of the public/Councillors under the provisions of Executive Procedure Rule 47 (Part 4D of the Constitution).

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RESOLVED:  To note that no public questions, petitions or deputations were received at this meeting.

Resolved Items

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Race Equality in Harrow Council pdf icon PDF 464 KB

Report of the Chief Executive.

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The Forum received a report of the Chief Executive which set out the Council’s Strategic Vision for Race Equality.  An Action Plan for Change had been developed for implementation, as set out at Appendix A to the report.  The report also launched a series of new corporate objectives designed to ensure that the Council’s policies and practices were fair and equitable for all staff in the workplace, beginning with a focus on race and ethnicity.


An officer introduced the report and made a presentation, which is attached as an appendix to these minutes for reference purposes.  The officer set out the key components of the Race Equality Plan and described the journey that had culminated into an Action Plan for Change for Harrow’s employees at all levels.


As part of the presentation, Members were informed of the Council’s approach which had included both qualitative and quantitative research.  The Council had praised the involvement and openness of staff in the research undertaken.  Members were advised of the key themes that had emerged from the Independent Race Review, such as psychological safety, racism in the workplace.  Governance and accountability processes would also be reviewed.


Members were informed that the Council’s Race Equality Action Plan centred around the following three themes:


-                 creating safe spaces.


-                 changing the organisations culture and behaviour.


-                 recruitment and retention, which included an ambitious target of 5% of the Council’s staff to be representative of the overall resident population by 2025.  An aspect of this theme would include a move towards advertising vacant posts internally to give existing staff the opportunity to apply for the post first, thereby scoping out existing staff and providing a seamless approach.


Members were also informed that there would be a new offer for staff culminating into a zero-tolerance approach in all aspects of the Council’s work, employment and service delivery which would also help ensure that staff were supported and trained.


Members were advised of how the Council’s ambitions would be achieved which would involve staff at all levels through ongoing discussions.  Finally, Members were informed of the next steps that had been put in place until January 2022.  The officer was keen to receive feedback from the Forum and to identify any improvements that might be required prior to the initiatives being bedded in.


The Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development and an officer responded to questions from Members and Employee Representatives, as follows:


-                 the new Dignity at Work Policy would be non-contractual, but managers and staff would be required to comply and adhere to it.  A Unison representative was of the view that the previous Policy had not been ‘fit for purpose’ because it did not form part of the contract of employment.  He questioned why a Council that was aspiring to change the ethos of the organisation would not make the Policy contractual.  A Member expressed similar concerns and stated that, whilst the Action Plan appeared to be aspirational, the Dignity at Work Policy was lacking  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.


Annual Health and Safety Report pdf icon PDF 4 MB

Report of the Divisional Director of Human Resources and Organisation Development.

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The Forum received a report of the Divisional Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development, which set out the Council’s Health and Safety performance for the year 1 April 2020 to 31 March 2021, providing an update of activities and giving information on outcome measures such as the response to the Covid-19 pandemic, training required, audits carried out and the number of accidents reported.  The report also included the Council’s Health and Safety Strategy and the Corporate Health and Safety Plan Policy. For completeness, the report also included information about Occupational Health and Safety.


An officer introduced the report and identified the six key areas, details of which were set out in the report.  He stated that the Health and Safety Strategy, Performance Plan and Health and Safety Policy formed the foundations to a positive health and safety culture.


Members were briefed on the work streams, such as the need to carry out risk assessments which were dominated by the Covid-19 pandemic, details of which were set out on page 78 and onwards of the agenda.  A governance and risk assessment process had been established and initially reviewed by the Health and Safety Compliance Manager to ensure that the right controls were in place.  These were then shared and further reviewed by the relevant Corporate Strategy Board sub-group.  There was confidence that robust processes had been put in place and this had been confirmed by the random spot checks carried out by the Health and Safety Executive who had applauded and provided a positive feedback on the processes that the Council had put in place.


Various measures were also put in place as part of the Council’s Wellbeing and Agile Working agenda, including support for those with mental health issues and wellbeing activities.  There had been a marked drop in the number of accidents reported which had been due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the initial closure of schools. Several (17) RIDDOR reports were submitted to the Health and Safety Executive.  Most accidents were in schools and had been attributed to physical assaults.  The Council was fortunate in that it had been possible to carry out much of the training on Health and Safety face- to-face.


The officer apologised for the typographical error and confirmed that the Strategy, which was for 3 years, would be reviewed in March 2022.  He acknowledged that the Strategy had been signed off the former Corporate Director of Community and would be refreshed but that the Strategy was being monitored by the Director of Human Resources and Organisational Development. He responded to questions as follows:


-                 there had been a low uptake in staff volunteering for Covid-19 vaccination, but the service had been made available.  A Unison representative questioned this further and wondered if misinformation had been in circulation.


-                 the Housing stock had been reviewed during the year.  In terms of the risk assessment methodology and the comparison with the Grenfell Tower fire disaster, the Council was satisfied that the one high rise building  ...  view the full minutes text for item 69.


Date of Next Meeting

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RESOLVED:  To note that the Forum was schedule to next meet on Wednesday 12 January 2022.

Appendix - Presentation pdf icon PDF 316 KB

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