Seventh Guiding Principle – Location
(Accepted with commentary by N.I. Executive on 27/09/07)
This Guiding Principle relates to recommendations on the location or re-location of staff consequent from the RPA.
The Commission recognises that workplace location is of major importance to staff and that as the Review of Public Administration is implemented decisions will have to be taken on location. The Commission recommends that, in consultation with trade unions and other staff representatives, the Executive should develop an overarching location framework strategy for all public services. In developing such a strategy, full consideration should be given to safeguarding the interests of staff. The Commission considers that any decision on the location of a workplace must be objectively justified and reflect, as far as possible, an equitable distribution of public sector jobs.
The Commission recommends that:
- Employers should aim to minimise hardship and domestic disruption as far as possible, within management needs, of those staff who face a change of workplace location. This should require ascertaining the personal preferences of staff, taking into account, for example, the domestic circumstances of employees, any relevant health factors or employee commitments such as caring for dependants.
- The Executive should ensure the consistent and effective application of the overarching framework strategy across the public sector. The overarching framework and its detailed application at sectoral level should:
- be subject to consultation with trade unions and other staff representatives;
- stress equality considerations, Lifetime Opportunities – Northern Ireland Anti-Poverty and Social Inclusion Strategy, A Shared Future Policy Framework and Rural Proofing.
- require a business case to justify significant staff relocations;
- emphasise effective communication to ensure that all employees are made aware of the location strategy and policies;
- support the full use of technology e.g. video conferencing, E-Government initiatives to mitigate against workplace location disruptions;
- establish what constitute reasonable travel to work distances, taking account of, for example, access routes and the availability and frequency of public transport;
- offer flexible working practices and any other relevant HR policies which have regard to management needs and which would help to alleviate staff difficulties associated with a change in workplace location;
- detail the mechanism by which staff may appeal against a change of workplace location
And in addition;
- Where contractual entitlements do not provide for reimbursement of expenses in respect of re-location, employers should made provision for reimbursement of reasonably incurred additional travelling or other removal expenses as a consequence of a change of workplace location on a basis which is comparable to that provided by other employers in the RPA Affected Group.
- Employers should, on a case by case basis, provide for reimbursement of reasonable incurred expenses outside this where they consider that exceptional circumstances exist.
- In line with the 3rd Guiding Principal employers should in addition provide compensation for employees who suffer other material detriment as a consequence of a re-location outside the scope of any applicable mobility clause.
- Ensure that employers, in consultation with trade unions, support those employees whose place of work, or work function changes. Such support should include , but not be limited to capacity building, retraining and career counselling as appropriate.