Jersey's government departments facing 'high staff turnover' and 'low morale'

The Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel has put forward 24 recommendations to address the issues. Credit: ITV Channel TV

A scrutiny panel has found that some of Jersey's government departments are experiencing a "concerning" level of staff turnover, with morale and wellbeing "worryingly low" - particularly in health.

The Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel examined workplace culture within the Government of Jersey and has put forward 24 recommendations to improve the situation.

Their recommendations include making training on discrimination mandatory, implementing a code of conduct for senior leadership before the end of the year, and delaying the appointment of a permanent Chief Executive until after the 2022 election.

Key issues identified in the scrutiny report:

  • A grievance procedure, which was expected to be produced in early 2021, has not yet materialised.

  • Discrimination, bullying and harassment training is currently only optional, which the panel says "conflicts with the behaviours and culture which the Government of Jersey is seeking to deliver".

  • The current disciplinary policy needs "additional significant review".

  • The States Employment Board "lacks transparency, coherent strategy and consistent implementation of policies and procedures".

  • Government is currently only relying on independent advice from a single advisor - who has been in the post for 10 years - when it is allowed to have two.

The report adds that, whilst "significant steps have been taken to improve policies and procedures", there are still "key areas of concern" around the training and retention of staff.

Corporate Services Scrutiny Panel recommendations:

  • Delay the appointment of a new chief executive "to ensure transparency of ministerial aims and objectives".

  • Make anti-bullying and discrimination training mandatory.

  • For a policy agenda to be published by the end of 2021 and reviews of policy implementation to be completed on a quarterly basis "to reduce inconsistencies".

  • The implementation of a new staff training programme to combat low morale.

In addition, the panel criticises a 'get on the train or get left behind' message maintained by former Chief Executive Charlie Parker and calls for it to be replaced.

Mr Parker resigned from the role in November 2020, after it emerged that he had taken a £50,000 second job as a non-executive director which had not been approved by the States Employment Board (SEB).

The post is now held by interim Chief Executive Paul Martin on a 12-month contract while the recruitment process for a permanent replacement takes place.

Reacting to the report's findings, Unite the Union claimed that up to a quarter of staff were "waiting to leave when the financial climate is more favourable".

  • Chief Minister Senator John Le Fondre reacts to the findings of the scrutiny report.