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Published: 14 Jul 2017

West Dunbartonshire Council, Winner 2017, Best Public Sector Employer

  • Extending flexible recruitment to proactively ask candidates what flexibility they desire
  • Extensive support for carers and bereaved employees
  • Making strides to support fathers in equal parenting

West Dunbartonshire Council’s (WDC’s) commitment to being the best was clear to the judges in the steady progress made in its family friendly provision. WDC understands what employees want and demonstrates commitment to making it work.

A significant proportion of WDC employees are parents or carers, and the council offers a wide range of practical support. It provides paid bereavement leave and offers flexibility through carers leave, ‘buy or bank’ leave, paid disability leave and personal days.

Managers are empowered to make day to day decisions. Masterclasses are run with HR and organisational development on family friendly policies and schemes. The council offers a range of flexible working policies and has significantly improved mobile IT capabilities, enabling many employees to work from home.

The first Scottish local authority to adopt the Happy to Talk Flexible Working strapline, WDC will now ask prospective employees if they wish to work flexibly and which hours they would prefer.

WDC has an Employee Carers’ Support Network supported by Carers of West Dunbartonshire, MacMillan Cancer Support and Money and Welfare Advice Service – representatives of which attend the day-time meetings. It also has an Armed Forces Support Group.

The council’s chief executive is a working mother and the champion of its Carers’ Support Network. There is also a fathers’ champion who is responsible for occupational areas where men are predominantly employed.

WDC aims to attract the best talent and provides the opportunity for prospective employees to re-enter the workplace following a break from employment for the provision of care of a child or an adult. Subject to the specified criteria of the post, all vacancies advertised will offer a guaranteed interview for candidates returning from a break from employment following a period of providing care.

The organisation has seen an average absence fall of 20 per cent from October 2015 to September 2016. Stress absence is down 33 per cent over the same period and there has been a 14 per cent reduction in vacancies. It believes the new approach to employee flexibility has contributed significantly to this.

“At the time of my father’s passing, the Bereavement Leave Scheme had just begun. My manager filled in the appropriate paperwork and I did not have to come into the workplace at a time when my emotions were all over the place.”