As Chair of the Supporting Derby’s Workforce Overview and Scrutiny Board, it’s my role to look at the work the Council carries out in relation to employment practices.
When agreeing its annual work programme, the Board recently decided to carry out a survey of the largest employers in Derby, with a view to sharing best practice from across the public, private and voluntary sectors.
Derby City Council is already carrying out some great work in this field. In May 2015, under the leadership of my colleague Councillor Lisa Eldret, the Council launched an Employment Charter with the support of our three trade unions. The Charter set out a long-term vision for establishing good employment practices across the city, while setting out ten key pledges which will ensure workers in Derby have access to secure jobs, good rates of pay and fair terms and conditions.
The Board is supporting the delivery of this important project by identifying those employers in Derby who are already embracing the spirit of the Charter. This survey is not about brow-beating employers into adopting particular practices, but rather looking at what the Council can learn from its partners in the city.
We will be approaching the largest 200 employers in Derby, to ask them about their policies and practices in relation to issues like the Living Wage, flexible working and volunteering opportunities.
We know that the Living Wage is an issue which creates significant political debate, not least amongst members of the Board. In April 2016, the Government increased the minimum wage to £7.20 per hour for those aged 25 and over. This is now known as the National Living Wage.
Meanwhile, the Living Wage Foundation calculates an hourly rate that reflects the cost of living, based on a typical basket of goods and services. For those living outside London, the Living Wage is currently set at £8.25 per hour.
I am delighted that since 1st October, all Council employees have been paid at or above this rate. I also believe that many other employers support the principle of adopting the Living Wage, but may face legitimate difficulties in adopting it within their business. We want to identify those employers, find out what the issues are and refer them to the appropriate support.
Another area the Board is interested in exploring is volunteering opportunities. For example, we will be asking whether employers allow paid time-off to engage with voluntary organisations and community groups as part of their overall policies involving corporate-social responsibility.
We’ll also be asking about flexible working practices like flexi-time, job sharing or working from home; as well as employee benefits like performance related bonuses, discount schemes, childcare vouchers, gym membership or private healthcare.
Our leading businesses know that a well paid and well-supported workforce is both happier and more productive. Through our survey of employment practices, we can champion some of the very best examples in the city.
The survey will be running from Monday 14th November until Friday 16th December. I’m looking forward to sharing the feedback we receive in the New Year.