Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Civic Offices, Reading

Contact: Richard Woodford - Committee Services  Email:

No. Item


Minutes of Previous Meeting 17 November 2022 pdf icon PDF 54 KB


The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 November 2022 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.



A report proposing a range of additional employee benefits.

Additional documents:


The Interim Assistant Director of HR and Organisational Development submitted a report which proposed a range of additional employee benefits that would enhance the comprehensive benefits package that the Council already offered to staff.  The proposals include both employee and employer funded benefits.  The following documents were appended to the report:

Appendix A: Health Cash Plan summary;

Appendix B: Plan4Life Cancer Care Plan summary;

Appendix C: Wage Stream App information.

The report explained that the following optional benefits would be funded by employees and contributions would be deducted from their monthly salary.  In most cases there was an option to increase the payment made in return for a higher level of cover and/or to cover family members.

Health Cash Plan - This was a way to manage the cost of essential healthcare.  Employees would pay a small monthly premium and could claim cash back on a wide range of healthcare costs and other benefits including discounted gym membership, a 24/7 counselling and information helpline, private prescriptions.  A table summarising the levels of cover available and costs to the employee was set out at Appendix A to the report.

CARE4LIFE Insurance Top Up Plan - The Care4 Life Insurance Top Up Plan, was designed to help dependents by paying a lump sum in the event that an insured person died during the period of cover.  An employee could insure themselves under personal cover or cover their spouse/partner as well under couple cover.

PLAN4LIFE Cancer Care Plan - This was an insurance policy that would provide a lump sum for the insured person if they were diagnosed with cancer.  There were different levels of cover available and summary of the scheme benefits was provided at Appendix B to the report.

The report also set out details of the Wage Stream App which would be funded by the Council and available to all employees.  This would give employees the opportunity to take control of their finances.  The App gave access to budget tracking, streaming (early access to a small proportion of their earned wage at any time of the month to help absorb any financial shocks during the month), financial coaching and a saving through salary scheme.  There was a one-off set up cost to create the interface with the Council’s HR system, iTrent and the cost to the Council for 1700 employees would be £1,250 per month (including 1-2-1 personal financial coaching).

The report also proposed that the maximum leave entitlement for Chief Officers with 10 years’ service be increased to 33 days, to ensure continued parity with staff on grades 1-10 whose maximum leave entitlement would also increase to 33 days.  No changes were proposed for Chief Officers with less service.  Chief Officers were not entitled to time off in lieu or flex-leave in the same way that staff at grades 1-10 were, so this represented the maximum amount of leave they could take.


(1)      That the three new employee-funded benefits (Health Cash Plan, Plan4Life Cancer Care Plan and Care4Life  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.



A report providing an update on activity being undertaken to support young people in the borough to prepare for work and to provide opportunities to upskill Council employees.


The Interim Assistant Director of HR and Organisational Development submitted a report which provided an update on activity being undertaken as part of the Team Reading Programme to support young people in the Borough to prepare for work and see the Council as a potential future employer, whilst also providing opportunities to upskill Council employees.  The report covered four areas Apprenticeships, a corporate work experience programme, mentoring and a proposal that the Council signed the Social Mobility Pledge.  The following documents were attached to the report:

Appendix A - Apprenticeship details as at August 2022;

Appendix B - Apprenticeship three-year Strategy;

Appendix C - 2021/22 Apprenticeship Strategy Performance Update;

Appendix D - Proposed FTE target for each service area and current apprentice numbers.

The report explained that apprenticeships could support the Council’s People Strategy by attracting, recruiting and retaining the best staff and by developing skills, knowledge, competencies and talent so that staff could reach their full potential and make a maximum contribution.  Appendix A provided a breakdown showing the number of apprentices by directorate/team.  The report also gave an update on the Council’s three-year Apprenticeship Strategy, attached at Appendix B.  Appendix C to the report showed the agreed success measures for the Apprenticeship Strategy and progress against these in Year 1 and Year 2.

The report explained that there were challenges with recruitment and retention of apprentices which would be addressed as follows:

·        Increasing the pay for apprentices to the Living Wage Foundation hourly rate which was currently £9.90 per hour, rising to £10.90 per hour on 1 April 2023;

·        Each Assistant/Deputy/Director would be set a target to ensure that 2.3% of posts in their service area were employed as apprentices, excluding any existing staff already undertaking an apprenticeship. This equated to 35 apprentice posts (the Council currently had 20).  A breakdown showing the FTE target for each service area and current apprentice numbers was included in Appendix D.

·        Funding for the 15 new apprentice posts would be created by top-slicing a percentage of existing salary budgets in order to create funding for each service area to appoint the minimum number of apprentices shown in Appendix D.

·        Raising managers’ awareness of the benefits of employing apprentices, and the commitment required of both them and their apprentice, through manager’s briefings, seminars, guidance notes etc.

·        Encouraging cross working between departments if teams do not feel they had capacity to train an apprentice over the full duration of the course.

·        The Council would be allowed to advertise some apprenticeship posts in particular areas to encourage applications, but not discriminate against others that applied from outside those areas.

The report also stated that the HR and Organisational Development team was working with managers across the Council to create a new corporate work experience programme, initially for students in Years 10 and 11 which aimed to show the wide range of career opportunities available, manage work experience placements more efficiently, support more students and provide a more impactful experience aligned to schools’  ...  view the full minutes text for item 15.