Causeway Coast and Glens Council will explore the possibility of creating a policy whereby agency staff are offered a contract after a set period of time.
The proposal was brought forward by UUP Councillor Darryl Wilson at Tuesday’s meeting of the Corporate Policy and Resources Committee.
The matter was raised when a report was brought before the committee outlining the council’s framework for managers to enable them to use and manage agency workers effectively.
DUP Councillor Alan McLean said; “Coming from the private sector in my day job I know there is a difference in the way things are done. In the private sector agency staff would basically be used to fill temporary roles.
“Some of our agency workers seem to be there forever and a day, if we are needing them for that length of time there is obviously a full-time post there so at what point do we make that decision it is a full-time job and shouldnt be covered by agency staff.
“It’s not fair on them, whilst they have some benefits they still don’t have a full-time job.”
Mrs Quinn, Director of Corporate Services told members that approximately 75% of the council’s agency staff are covering full-time posts. However, she informed them that a proposal document about the issue is with the unions with regards to the harmonisation of the terms and conditions and that job descriptions have been agreed and evaluated. These steps have to be completed before recruiting into the posts can begin.
Councillor McLean said: I don’t think it is right that any members should be serving four or five years longer as an agency member. At that point they should be a full-time member of staff.”
UUP Councillor Darry Wilson asked: “Is there still no way, as we see in the private sector, that if a person is doing a job for a specific set period of time that we can automatically offer them a contract.”
He then made the proposal that “Council should explore options for putting a policy or mechanism in place whereby after a certain period of time agency staff could apply for or could be offered a full-time job”.
Cllr Wilson added: “Can I also bring to the attention of senior management staff that there are a number of agency staff who were carrying out a function for council and they were furloughed because we had a number of facilities closed.
“Some of those facilities are due to reopen in a period of days, yet last week a number of those agency staff were given their P45. It might be useful for the directors to liaise with the agency companies we use. It’s quite strange the agency gave a number of people their P45 when I assume the council will be going to the agency within a matter of days to ask for their services.”
Cllr McLean seconded the proposal.
Sinn Fein Councillor Cara McShane agreed the proposal and looking at options was ‘a good way to go.’
She said: “As 40 elected representatives across the spread of Causeway Coast and Glens we have been saying for years that we had concerns about agency workers.
“I have been in Council for 16 years and I know there are many legacy staff who have been agency staff for upwards of double figures and I think it is so shameful.”
The proposal passed unanimously and will go forward to Tuesday’s Full Council for ratification.