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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 04/10/2004
Code of Conduct for Local Government Employees
Review of Politically Restricted Posts


Q.3 - Do you agree that Council Managers should be subject to the same Code as
other employees?

Although not a directly relevant matter for this authority, the view that there should be a consistent Code for all local government employees remains relevant. A Council Manager is an employee of the Council and should, therefore, be subject to the proposed Code.

Q.4. - Should different rules, or a separate Code, apply to political assistants?

See the response to Q.3

Q.5 - Are the provisions relating to the use of public funds and property adequate to ensure effective stewardship of resources?

These provisions provide broad headlines only that are not contentious.

The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee wished to emphasise that employees must not make personal use of property or facilities of the authority unless properly and specifically authorised to do so, for the protection of the individuals.

This authority (and, doubtless, most others) has policies and procedures that address Waverley’s specific approach to a number of the ‘headlines’. By that we mean our policies in respect of equality of opportunity, procurement, dignity and respect at work (anti-bullying and harassment), public interest disclosure (Whistleblowing) etc. as well as the officer/member protocol and the standing orders of the Council and scheme of delegation. All of these already form part of the conditions of service of employees.

Within that context, we would regard the provisions as being inadequate unless they are supported by local policies, practices, procedures etc.

Q.6 - Is it appropriate for the Code to impact upon an employee’s private life or should it only apply to an employee at work?

The public need to have confidence in the integrity of the Council and its members and officers. Employees of local government have always had to accept certain restrictions on their personal activities to avoid bringing the Council, in any way into disrepute.

It is important for there to be rules to ensure that there is not a conflict of interests between the private activities of staff, at all levels, and their public duties.

Q.7 - As with the Members’ Code, should there be a standard list of interests and or hospitality/benefits/gifts that must always be registered?

The problem with providing lists is that anything that is not contained on the list may be considered acceptable. To provide staff with broad guidelines and to expect them to make reasonable judgements is the adult way of dealing with this. The Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee proposed that a monetary value should be placed on hospitality/gifts registered, in line with the member code of conduct (which specifies items with a value in excess of 25)

Q.8 – If so, what should the list contain? Should it mirror part 3 of the Councillors Code or be restricted to financial interests?

See the response to Q.7

Q.9 - Should such a list be available to the public?

This should not be required. The O & S Committee proposed that the list should be available to the public.

Q.10 - Alternatively, could the need for a list be restricted to Officers above a certain salary, as applies, for example, to the current political restriction regime?

No. All the Council’s staff should be dealt with in the same way.

Q.11 - Should this provision be explicitly limited to interests, gifts, etc., that may have a bearing on the way in which the functions of the authority are discharged by the employee?

No. If a list were considered necessary, it is difficult to see how the receipt of a gift by one employee of the corporate body that is the Council could be separated out as having no bearing upon the work of the Council.

Q.12 - Does the proposal on the reporting of misconduct provide suitable protection for employees?

Insofar as it can protect any employee, the proposal is adequate.

Q.13 - Should the Code impose a duty on employees to report misconduct?

No. The local authority should encourage staff to do so. It can be a difficult and stressful decision for an employee to make and to make it a contractual requirement would not help that position. What would the sanctions be for non-compliance?

Q.14 - Is “friend” the appropriate term to use in the draft Code? If so, should it be defined, and what should the definition be?

Friend is, on balance, the right word. This is something that has always been understood in local authority circles and any doubts can be discussed and agreed at local management level. Beyond the dictionary definition, nothing further is required. The addition of a definition will not remove the grey areas. This can be left to common sense.

Q.15 - Does the phrase “relative or friend” as defined above adequately cover all the relationships with which this part of the Code should be concerned?

It is conceivable that employees may form some kind of business partnership which, although not inappropriate to the Council’s activities, may fall within the definition of ‘personal interests’ when the persons concerned may not regard themselves as friends. Restrictions should continue to apply in such cases.

Q.16 - Do you have any comments on what arrangements might be appropriate for ensuring employees are informed about the code?

No. Each authority will know what is best in its particular circumstances.