COUNCILLORS have thrown out a proposal suggesting Fife Council should pay a fee on their behalf after hearing even the lowest-paid staff have to cough up the cash from their wages.
Anyone working with children or vulnerable adults must apply for membership of the Protection of Vulnerable Groups (PVG) Scheme, which is replacing the current Disclosure arrangements.
But councillors at last week’s executive committee meeting were appalled to hear of an employee paying out the equivalent of a week’s wages to join the scheme, and rejected the idea the Council should pay the £59 fee on their behalf.
Councillor Linda Erskine (Labour, Lochgelly and Cardenden) said: “A cleaner on £59 per week who works at Town House in Kirkcaldy has been moved on a temporary basis to a school and has been asked to pay.
“It’s only right and proper that we receive no more favourable treatment than the staff who must pay for their membership regardless of how little they earn.”
Councillor Bryan Poole (Independent, Cupar) said it was “alarming and unfair” for a member of staff to be asked to pay a week’s wages, and suggested anyone paid less than a councillor’s salary should be exempt from the charge, and Councillor Brian Goodall (SNP, Dunfermline South) also called for a cut-off point.
Michael Enston, executive director of corporate services, said there had been discussions on the issue, but added: “In terms of the number of staff, the cost to the Council would have been exorbitant.”
Council leader Alex Rowley expressed concern about the impact this would have on staff.
He suggested the JNCF (Joint Negotiation and Consultation Forum) – a body involving council, management and human resources representatives, and employees and trade union officials to find resolutions to issues and disputes – should discuss the matter and pull a report together.