4. What steps he is taking to reward staff for exceptional work in supporting hon. Members. (905591)
May I begin my answer by reiterating, on behalf of Members on all sides of the House, the gratitude for the excellent work of all those who serve us at every level in the House service? More specifically, as part of the current three-year pay agreement for the main pay groups, there is a commitment to review the existing performance management arrangements and to introduce a new system that can reward staff based on their overall contribution, including service to Members. In addition there are also a number of non-financial ways in which staff who provide excellent service can be recognised and rewarded. One particular example is through the regular “thank you” events that are now held by the acting Clerk.
That all sounds fine and good, but should we in this House not be trying to be a model employer, and a model employer would not employ lots of people on short-term contracts to substitute full-time employees with agency staff? Also, surely we should be an employer that can boast that our staff have the highest morale and highest commitment. They do have the commitment, but the morale is going down week after week, and early retirements of good, valued members of staff is the result.
On morale, the most recent staff survey shows that 84% of the staff spoken to would recommend the House of Commons and PICT as a good place to work, and that is up on last year’s 76%, so I think that actually morale has been improving, particularly since we have come to a settlement on pay and other matters. With regard to contracts, I would point out that the House, in its endeavours to become a model employer, has got rid of zero-hours contracts and some of the people who were on zero-hours are now on contracts that are appropriate to the work they do. The House always looks to produce the best contract for employees and to retain its staff. We do not always succeed as best we can, but we certainly always endeavour to do it and will continue to do so.