Redeployment of surplus staff

Scottish local authorities periodically review staff numbers across their schools. At a time when budgets are coming under increasing pressure, this process of reviewing staff numbers becomes a more frequent exercise.

By Senior Professional Officer (Scotland) Jennifer Barnes

As employees are normally appointed to the service of the council and not to a particular school, many authorities can utilise their ‘Compulsory Transfer Procedure’ to redeploy staff to other locations in line with service demand. A transfer may be instigated for a number of reasons, including:

  • falling school rolls;
  • school closures and amalgamations;
  • reduction of service provision in the base school; or
  • restructuring, particularly in the current climate where budgets are reducing.

Policies and procedures

Policies often contain a statement that, although staff have a contractual liability to transfer from one educational establishment to another, every effort will be made to minimise the number of compulsory transfers. Indeed, the first step is to ascertain whether there are any volunteers within an identified pool of staff for transfer. Only where this cannot be achieved within the relevant timescale will an employee be transferred compulsorily. At the volunteer stage, it is helpful for as much information as possible to be provided to potentially affected staff about available posts. In providing this information, the council is maximising the chance of volunteers coming forward. In cases involving multiple transfers, meetings are often convened with affected staff to provide details of available posts and an explanation of the process.

Visits on request to establishments with available posts are also commonplace. In matching an employee to an available post, the employee’s expertise must be of relevance to the post concerned. Should the compulsory transfer stage of the process be reached, the next step will be to identify who within a pool of staff should be transferred. The council’s procedure will cover the identification of the individual employee(s) to be transferred compulsorily. This normally involves the application of a measurable criterion to the staff within the pool. A common example would be ‘the employee with the least continuous service with the local authority must transfer’. Policies often have a series of criteria to be applied, in order of priority, in the event that the initial criterion fails to select a person. For example, if criterion (1) fails to select a person, criterion (2), such as ‘total length of service within the school’, will be used, and so on. In determining the appropriateness of any compulsory transfer, there should be the opportunity to consider personal circumstances such as travel, family and health. The procedure will also accord certain benefits to voluntary/compulsory transferees. For example:

  • providing a measure of protection from further transfer;
  • some assistance with travelling expenses; and
  • the opportunity, where possible, to return to their original establishment should a suitable vacancy arise within a stipulated period following the original transfer.

Once arranged, formal written notice will be sent to the member of their impending transfer.

Your views and experiences

If you are a Voice member and think that you might be affected by redeployment proposals and need advice, please email us or call us on 0131 220 8241.

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