Aims of the Strategy

The introduction of a paid leave provision for employees who are foster carers for Dorset Council. 

The proposal is to offer:

  • up to 5 days paid leave per year for the initial training/assessments (pro rata for part timers)
  • plus up to 5 days paid leave per year (pro rata for part timers) for reviews, attendance at shared lives panels etc. 

The paid leave can be taken as individual whole day or part days or in a block of 5 days and will be in addition to existing provisions such as the right to request flexible working, flexi-time and/or unpaid leave provisions (e.g. parental leave or time off for dependants) which can also be requested as and when needed. 

NB. There is a separate EqIA regarding the Councils Foster Carer modernisation plan (dated 2017/18). This was an EQIA produced by Dorset County Council but is still relevant following the creation of Dorset Council.  Therefore, where it refers to Dorset County Council (DCC) this should now be interpreted as Dorset Council.  If you wish to read this it is available from our Diversity and Inclusion officer.

Dorset Council do not currently offer any paid leave provision for employee who are fostering carers. 

To become a foster carer there a period of initial training followed by the need for on-going reviews and assessments etc. 

It is hoped that by introducing a paid leave provision to support Dorset Council employees who are considering becoming or are already a foster carer that this might encourage an increase in interest and help in part to address our current and on-ongoing foster carer shortage. 

Context to the proposal

Dorset Council are currently running a campaign to recruit more foster carers.  More carers are needed, otherwise some Dorset children may have to leave their friends and where they’re settled, and be placed in care elsewhere in another council area. 

There are currently approximately 145 recruited foster carers in Dorset some of which are ‘shielding’ so not currently available.  The Council does not hold details of whether any other these are employees, but the view is that if there are any at all it will be a very small number. 

The fostering services have said that ideally they would like to double the number of foster carers. 

Intelligence and Communication

Data, information, evidence and research used and how it has influenced the decision-making process

Theresa Leavy (Executive Director People - Children) and Ian Smith (Interim Service Manager – Placements & Resources) have both confirmed that they support the proposal of enhancing our employee provision and their recommendation in terms of amount of time needed have helped to inform the proposal.

Provisions other councils offer their employees who are foster carers

summary of provision table
Council Summary of provision
BCP

No paid leave provision.

Bristol

Up to 5 days paid leave + 15 days unpaid leave (pro rata for part timers) per year to attend training or meetings during the fostering assessment and approval process and at the start of a permanent placement.

Devon

Up to 6 days paid leave.

Somerset

NB. New provision awaiting final sign off.  The proposals are:

  • up to 8 days paid leave per child per year (pro rata for part timers)
  • plus up to 36 hours paid leave for initial training (if this falls within work time)
  • recommend a friend scheme – if an employee recommends someone to adopt and they are approved the employee gets a £150 payment
Wiltshire

Up to 9 days paid leave per year consisting of:

  • up to 3 days training/assessment
  • up to 1 day shared lives panel
  • up to 5 days reviews etc

We are not aware of any existing employees who are foster carers, so it has not been possible to engage with this group. 

Trade unions will be updated on the proposal and their comments will help to inform the final policy/guidance. 

That the current practice of not offering any form of paid leave to support employees who are foster carers was not aligned to some other councils and could therefore be inhibiting our ability to attract foster carers that are employees of the council. 

That the councils need to attract foster carers is an on-going one. 

Engagement or consultation that has taken place as part of this EqIA

The proposed new provision has been discussed with the Green Book Trade Unions and they have confirmed their support and appreciation of the recommendations made in this report.

Feedback

The new provision will be actively communicated and promoted across the organisation. 

Assessment  

impacts table
Impacts on who or what?   Effect  Details
Age Disability Pregnancy and maternity Race and Ethnicity Religion or belief Sexual orientation Sex Marriage or civil partnership Rural isolation    Neutral This provision will be offered to all employees who are Foster Carers irrespective of protected characteristic.
Carers Single parent families Armed forces communities Social & economic deprivation     Unclear - we do not hold employee data for this group  The provision of paid leave may assist employees thinking about becoming a foster carer to balance caring commitments.

Key to impacts

impact description table
Positive Impact

the proposal eliminates discrimination, advances equality of opportunity and/or fosters good relations with protected groups.

Negative Impact

Protected characteristic group(s) could be disadvantaged or discriminated against.

Neutral Impact

No change/ no assessed significant impact of protected characteristic groups.

Unclear

Not enough data/evidence has been collected to make an informed decision.

Action Plan

action plan table
Issue Action to be taken Person(s) responsible Date to be completed by

Level of employee data held by Dorset Council. 

To keep this under review and where possible seek to improve this. 

To regularly review the take up of the new provision to assess the impact and whether it increase the number of foster carers who are our employees.

 

Corporate Director for HR & OD

 

Annually

Increasing awareness of new & existing provisions to support employees who are foster carers

To liaise with the Communications team to develop a communications plans which ensures raised awareness of the new and existing provision and that it is applicable to all employees.

 

Corporate Director for HR & OD

 

September 2020

Who agreed the EqIA?

who agreed the EQIA table
Role Name Date
Officer completing this EqIA:

Sam Dewar

20 August 2020

Equality Lead:

Susan Ward-Rice

20 August 2020

Equality & Diversity Action Group Chair:

Rebecca Forrester

20 August 2020

 

Diversity and Inclusion Officer - Dorset Council

Name: Susan Ward-Rice
Email: susan.ward-rice@dorsetcouncil.gov.uk
Tel: 01305 224368
Full contact details

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