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Tuesday
Oct132015

Staffing Issues Highlighted

Following the recent contretemps concerning staffing numbers, Laurna White emailed me on 9 October in the following terms:

Good Morning Bill,

I am following up on the document you used for your September 1 blog around Council's staff numbers. This document is inaccurate. As background, earlier this year Council upgraded to a higher version of our HR information system "Employee Connect" as the support for old system was no longer going to be provided for. The migration has been a staged process, and in August this saw the transferring of old employee information over to the new system and HR starting to trial and test reports.

The document in your possession is a print-out of trial reports. These reports were generated to test that the data was being pulled through correctly to the right reports. During testing of the reports it was found that outdated employee information had pulled through from the old system. For eg the bottom two lines of the report you have with the headings “No Org Unit assigned” and “Support Services” are completely wrong and should be removed, as we no longer have a Support Services department and every employee is assigned to a department, so there is no employee not assigned.

We manage our employee numbers through the units of Full-time equivalent (FTE), which includes all permanent staff (full-time or part-time) and those on fixed-terms greater than 1 year.

Correct figures are:

Aug 2015 - FTE of 193.61.

Sept 2015 - FTE of 190.61.

Oct 2015 - FTE of 190.575.

All these figures are generated from our payroll system, and relate to the actual individuals being paid in that fortnight. Full-time Equivalent (FTE) is used as a comparator. This way the hours worked are aggregated to give what the equivalent would be in full-time hours using 40 hours as the standard working week. In some of your comments you appear to be confusing FTE with head count.

Here is the headcount figures for the same times for full-time and part time employees.

Aug 2015 – 204

Sept 2015 – 201

Oct 2015 - 199

The figures in our Annual Reports are scrutinised by Audit NZ who have unrestrained access to all information held by Council in order to verify the numbers disclosed. Audit NZ's process is to compare those HR figures with the payroll run for the period that covered year end.

Casual employees are never accounted for in headcount or FTE. Their legal employment relationship means they are only employed for literally the hours they work and the employment relationship ceases in between these periods of work.

Reporting on casual figures is through a financial dollar amount to our Finance department. Most Councils have a large bank of casuals to use for seasonal work or to cover unexpected absences or workloads.

I have had our HR department provide me with the casual figures for August 2015 (25 people). When that is added to the permanent and part-time headcount numbers takes it to 229.

We have also checked the highest headcount (including permanent, part-time and casual employees for this year) and it was 239 in Feb 2015, as we had extra casuals for the summer period. We have never hit 260 as your blog alleges.

Meanwhile, in the interest of fairness, balance and accuracy Council should have been asked for a right of reply and to be able to provide a response to the employment figures you were given, before you posted on your 1 September blog. I am requesting that you print a retraction that the figures you received were inaccurate and that you had not approached Council to verify them.

I would also like to clarify that staff turnover for our Council for 2014-2015 (which includes permanent staff and those who that have a temporary contract of more than one year) was 12.4%. As a benchmark, the average staff turnover for Local Government for the previous financial year was 12.5%.

On another note following up on this week's Council meeting, the Marine Facilities Bylaws was taken into public excluded to receive legal advice. After the Council agenda was distributed we received notice that legal advice needed to be taken. The right thing to do was to put the paper open to public, but the legal advice to be taken in public excluded. This was said at the Council meeting, but it may have been that you didn't hear that. The decision was brought out of public excluded and matches the recommendation within the agenda report. The minutes, when published will reflect this.

Regards,

Laurna.

 

 


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