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Facilities Management Frequently Asked Questions – November 2014

We’re making changes to our facilities management service, which includes our cleaners, janitors, school crossing patrollers and catering staff.

The changes will help us achieve necessary savings of more than £1 million over two years and ensure we deliver a service that meets business needs. In practice, this means there will be fewer jobs across the service and, for some people, a drop in their working hours.

Our Frequently Asked Questions aim to tell you all you need to know about these changes. If you can’t find the question and answer you’re looking for, please contact us.

Why are you making these changes?

Firstly, we need to deliver savings of over £1 million over two years. Secondly, we need to ensure our cleaners, janitors, school crossing patrollers and catering staff provide the right level of service for our schools and other Council buildings. The changes we’re making do both.

What is the impact of these changes?

The changes mean a reduction in the number of cleaners, janitors, school crossing patrollers and catering staff we have. They also mean reduced hours for a number of the remaining staff. We’ve been working closely with them to minimise the impact of this by making up hours from vacant posts. As a result, in excess of 200 employees will not experience a drop in pay, which is a good outcome.

What does this actually mean in practice?

For catering, we are closing the production kitchens in seven primary schools and now provide them with school meals made in nearby schools. The meals are transported safely and securely in time for the lunchtime service in special insulated containers. These ensure both the temperature and the nutritional content of the food is maintained and we monitor this closely. Feedback from the schools involved has been very positive so far. We’ve also stopped free fruit in schools and changed our catering staff cleaning/training days.

For cleaning, we’re reducing cleaning hours by around 15 minutes a day, where possible. Health and safety standards and hygiene levels will continue to be achieved by using better and more efficient cleaning equipment and materials. We’re also spending less time on the likes of buffing vinyl floors.

For our janitors, we’re reducing janitor hours in some schools to ensure we deliver a suitable service to meet the needs of the school. This also allows us to address long-standing difference in janitors’ working hours and duties. The changes will ensure janitors are on site at schools when needed and focus only on their core duties. This does mean there will be times – at some schools – when a janitor is not on site.

For school crossing patrols, we’re removing patrollers from sites where alternative traffic control measures such as pedestrian crossings are in place. We’re also looking at where primary school janitors can provide the service as part of their daily core duties. While it’s up to parents and carers to ensure their children travel safely between home and school, our patrollers provide additional support at a number of locations. We will only make changes after completing a full risk assessment of each site.

How many posts are you removing in total?

41 members of staff will have left through voluntary redundancy or voluntary early retirement by the end of this year. However, some of their posts will be filled on a ‘reduced hours’ basis. For example, a janitor working 37 hours per week, all year round, may be replaced by someone working 25 hours per week during term-time only.

The bulk of our savings are from reduced working hours, streamlined processes and ensuring we deliver a proportionate level of service. The new ways of working have been working well in a number of schools and locations for some time. We’re confident the same can be achieved elsewhere.

Does this mean our schools are getting a ‘lesser’ service in terms of cleaning, catering and janitors?

Absolutely not. What we’re doing is delivering our services in a different and more efficient way. Schools will still provide safe, clean and suitable learning environments, pupils will still enjoy quality, nutritious meals and janitors will still be on hand when needed.

Health and safety standards and hygiene levels will continue to be achieved.

Why are you letting people go if you have vacancies to fill?

Our focus is to deliver the best possible Facilities Management service at all times and we need the staff to do this. By letting 41 employees go, we’ve been able to avoid a drop in pay for around more than 200 staff. However, we’ve had vacancies that we haven’t filled for a long time, a number of staff have resigned and we also need to replace some of the hours of those we have let go. We also need additional staff to help us deliver the free school meals initiative from January 2015. The recruitment process to fill all our posts is now underway and we hope to have new staff in place very soon.

How much is it costing to let these people go?

The total one-off costs are around £200,000. While this is a significant sum, it can be offset against the £1 million-plus savings we’re working to meet. The costs will be met from our Managing Change fund.

How many posts do you need to fill?

We need around 100 new people to make sure we’re fully staffed and can deliver the right level of service to our school and other Council colleagues. It’s a great opportunity for people to join the Council.

I’ve heard you’ve asked some of these people to come back to the Council. Is that true?

Absolutely not. A handful of staff have agreed to extend their finish date slightly but these are staff who still work with us. As standard, staff who receive redundancy or early retirement cannot be re-employed by the Council for a set amount of time.

Are you using an employment agency to find staff?

We use agency staff as a last resort when we don’t have enough of our own permanent or bank staff to provide the necessary services to our schools and communities. If we didn’t have this back-up option, it would be – in the main – our school pupils who would suffer.

How can you say both hygiene and health and safety will be maintained if cleaning is being reduced?

Cleaning hours are being reduced by around 15 minutes per day and we’re finding these 15 minutes by changing the equipment and materials we use. For example, using one product that allows us to carry out multiple tasks rather than having to change water and cleaning chemicals.

What will the impact be on schools by making such drastic cuts to janitation services?

We will continue to deliver a suitable level of service within our schools, with janitors focusing on core duties at the key times of day. This does mean there may be slots during the day when a janitor is not available in all schools; however they will be there when needed to carry out their duties.

If you don’t need to provide a school crossing service, why continue to do it all?

While parents and carers are responsible for ensuring their children get to and from school safely, we are committed to providing support to achieve this at the busiest locations and where no alternative crossing support – such as pedestrian crossings – are available.

How will you determine what sites will be covered and what ones won’t?

We constantly monitor our school crossing sites and our service is prioritised according to traffic at locations, the numbers of children crossing the road at specific locations and the general safety of the locations.

Doesn’t taking school crossing patrollers away create a danger for children travelling to and from school?

Before making any changes to our school crossing sites, we carry out a full risk assessment of the individual site. This takes account of traffic volumes, the numbers of children crossing the road, the general safety of the location and the other supports in place such as pedestrian crossings.

How will I know what level of service my child’s school or my building will get?

Contact the school or Council building manager in the first instance.

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