Policies

List of publically accessible policies that apply to Oblong Ltd

Memorandum & Articles of Association of Oblong Ltd.

Memorandum of Association of Oblong Ltd

Companies Acts 1985 & 1989
Company limited by guarantee and not having a share capital

 

1. Name

The name of the Company is Oblong ('the Charity')

 

2. Registered Office

The registered office of the Charity is to be in England and Wales

 

3. Objects

“ Oblong aims to develop the capacity and skills of people living in socially and economically disadvantaged areas
in such a way that they are better able to identify, and help meet, their needs and to create active flourishing
communities , and to run a community centre, primarily for the benefit of the Woodhouse , Little London and Hyde
Park areas”

 

4. Powers

4.0. The Charity has the following powers, which may be exercised only in promoting the Objects:

4.1. To promote or carry out research

4.2. To provide advice

4.3. To publish or distribute information

4.4. To cooperate with other bodies

4.5. To support, administer or set up other charities

4.6. To raise funds

4.7. To borrow money and give security for loans (but only in accordance with the restrictions imposed by the Charities Act 1993)

4.8. To acquire or hire property of any kind

4.9. To let or dispose of property of any kind (but only in accordance with the restrictions imposed by the Charities Act 1993)

4.10. To make grants or loans of money and to give guarantees

4.11. To set aside funds for special purposes or as reserves against future expenditure

4.12. To deposit or invest funds in any manner (but to invest only after obtaining advice from a financial expert and having regard to the suitability of investment and the need for diversification)

4.13. To delegate the management of investments to a financial expert, but only on terms that:

4.13.1. The investment policy is set down in writing for the financial expert by the Trustees

4.13.2. Every transaction is reported promptly to the Trustees

4.13.3. The performance of the investment is reviewed regularly with the Trustees

4.13.4. The Trustees are entitled to cancel the delegation arrangement at any time

4.13.5. The investment policy and the delegation arrangement are reviewed at least once a year

4.13.6 All payments due to the financial expert are on a scale or at a level which is agreed in advance and are notified promptly to the Trustees on receipt

4.13.7 The financial expert must not do anything outside the powers of the Trustees

4.14. To arrange for investments or other property of the Charity to be held in the name of a nominee (being a corporate body registered or having an established place of business in England and Wales) under the control of the Trustees or of a financial expert acting under their instructions and to pay any reasonable fee required

4.15. To insure the property of the Charity against any foreseeable risk and take out other insurance policies to protect the Charity when required

4.16. To insure the Trustees against the cost of a successful defence to a criminal prosecution brought against them as charity trustees or against personal liability incurred in respect of any act or omission which is or is alleged to be a breach of trust or breach of duty, unless the Trustee concerned knew that, or was reckless whether, the act or omission was a breach or trust or duty.

4.17. Subject to clause 5, to employ paid or unpaid agents, staff or advisers

4.18. To enter into contracts to provide service to or on behalf of other bodies

4.19. To establish subsidiary companies to assist or act as agents for the Charity

4.20. To pay the costs of forming the Charity

4.21. To do anything else within the law∙ which promotes or helps to promote the Object

 

5. BENEFITS TO MEMBERS AND TRUSTEES

5.1 The property and funds of the Charity must be used only for promoting the Objects and do not belong to the
Charity but
5.1.1 Members who are not Trustees may be employed by or enter into contracts with the Charity and
receive reasonable payment for goods and services
5.1.2 Members (including Trustees) may be paid interest at a reasonable rate on money lent to the Charity
5.1.3 Members (including Trustees) may be paid a reasonable rent or hiring fee for property let or hired to
the Charity
5.1.4 Individual members who are not Trustees but who are beneficiaries may receive charitable benefits in
that capacity
5.2 A Trustee must not receive any payment of money or other material benefit (whether directly or indirectly) from
the Charity except
5.2.1 as mentioned in clauses 4.16, 5.1.2, 5.1.3 or 5.3
5.2.2 Reimbursement of reasonable outofpocket
expenses (inc1uding hotel and travel costs) actually
incurred in running the Charity
5.2.3 An indemnity in respect of any liabilities properly incurred in running the Charity (including the costs of
a successful defence to criminal proceedings)
5.2.4 Payment to any company in which a Trustee has no more than a 1 per cent shareholding.
5.2.5 in exceptional cases, other payments or benefits (but only with the written approval of the Commission
in advance)
5.3 Any Trustee (or any firm or company of which a Trustee is a member or employee) may enter into a contract
with the Charity to supply goods or services in return for a payment or other material benefit but only if
5.3.1 The goods or services are actually required by the Charity
5.3.2 The nature and level of the remuneration is no more than is reasonable in relation to the value of the
goods or services and is set in accordance with the procedure in clause 5.4
5.3.3 No more than one half of the Trustees are subject to such a contract in any financial year
5.4 Whenever a Trustee has a personal interest in a matter to be discussed at a meeting of the Trustees or a
committee the Trustee concerned must:
5.4.1 Declare an interest at or before discussion begins on the matter
5.4.2 Withdraw from the meeting for that item unless expressly invited to remain in order to provide
information
5.4.3 Not be counted in the quorum for that part of the meeting
5.4.4 Withdraw during the vote and have no vote on the matter
5.5 This clause may not be amended without the prior written consent of the Commission

6. LIMITED LIABILITY
The liability of members is limited
7. GUARANTEE
Every member promises. if the Charity is dissolved while he, she or it remains a member or within 12 months
afterwards, to pay up to £1 towards the costs of dissolution and the liabilities incurred by the Charity while the
contributor was a member
8. DISSOLUTION
8.1 If the Charity is dissolved the assets (if any) remaining after provision has been made for all its liabilities must be
applied in one or more of the following ways:
8.1.1 By transfer to one or more other bodies established for exclusively charitable purposes within, the
same as or similar to the Objects
8.1.2 Directly for the Objects or charitable purposes within or similar to the Objects
8.1.3 In such other manner consistent with charitable status as the Commission approve in writing in
advance
8.2 A final report and statement of account must be sent to the Commission

9. INTERPRETATION
9.1 Words and expressions defined in the Articles have the same meanings in this Memorandum.
9.2 References to an Act of Parliament are references to the Act as amended or reenacted
from time to time and
to any subordinate legislation made under it.

Articles of Association of Oblong Ltd

Companies House Act 1985 & 1989
Company Limited by Guarantee and Not having a share capital

Registered Office: 197 Woodhouse Street, Leeds, LS6 2NY

 

1. MEMBERSHIP

1.1 The number of members with which the company proposes to be registered is unlimited .
1.2 The Charity must maintain a register of members
1.3 Membership of the Charity is open to any individual or organisation interested in promoting the Objects who
1.3.1 Applies to the Charity in the form required by the Trustees
1.3.2 Is approved by the Trustees and
1.3.3 Signs the Register of members or consents in writing to become a member either personally or (in the
case of a member organisation) through an authorised representative.
1.4 The Trustees may establish different classes of membership and prescribe their respective privileges and
duties and set the amounts of any subscriptions
1.5 Membership is terminated if the member concerned
1.5.1 Gives written notice of resignation to the Charity
1.5.2 Dies or (in the case of an organisation) ceases to exist
1.5.3 Is six months in arrears in paying the relevant subscription (but in such a case the member may be
reinstated on payment of the amount due) or
1.5.4 is removed from membership by resolution of the Trustees on the ground that in their reasonable
opinion the members continued membership is harmful to the Charity ( but only after notifying the member
in writing and considering the matter in the light of any written representations which the member concerned
puts forward within 14 clear days after receiving notice)
1.6 Membership of the Charity is not transferable

 

2. GENERAL MEETINGS

2.1 Members are entitled to attend general meetings either personally or (in the case of an organisation) by an
authorised representative. General meetings are called on at least clear 21 days written notice specifying the
business to be discussed
2.2 There is a quorum at a general meeting if the number of members or authorised representatives personally
present is at least 5 (or 5%of the members if greater)
2.3 The Chairperson or if the Chairperson is unable or unwilling to do so) some other members elected by those
present presides at a general meeting
2.4 Except where otherwise provided by the Act, every issue is decided by a majority of votes cast
2.5 Except for the chairman of the meeting, who has a second or casting vote, every member present in person or
through an authorised representative has one vote on each issue
2.6 A written resolution signed by all those entitled to vote at a general meeting is as valid as a resolution actually
passed at a general meeting (and for this purpose the written resolution may be set out in more than one document
and will be treated as passed on the date of the last signature)
2.7 The Charity must hold an AGM in every year which all the members are entitled to attend. The first AGM may be
held within 18 months after the Charity's incorporation
2.8 At an AGM the members:
2.8.1 Receive the accounts of the Charity for the previous financial year
2.8.2 Receive the Trustees' report on the Charity's activities since the previous AGM
2.8.3 Accept the retirement of those Trustees who wish to retire or who are retiring by rotation
2.8.4 Elect persons to be Trustees to fill the vacancies arising
2.8.5 Appoint auditors for the Charity
2.8.6 May confer on any individual the honorary title of Patron, President or VicePresident
of the Charity and
2.8.7 Discuss and determine any issues of policy or deal with other business put before them
2.9 Any general meeting which is not an AGM is an EGM

2.10 An EGM may be called at any time by the Trustees and must be called within 28 days on a written request
from at least 10 members

 

3. THE TRUSTEES

3.1 The Trustees as charity trustees have control of the Charity and its property and funds
3.2 The Trustees when complete consists of at least three and not more than twelve individuals, all of whom
must be members
3.3 The subscribers to the Memorandum are the first Trustees of the Charity
3.4 Every Trustee must sign a declaration of willingness to act as a charity trustee of the Charity before he or she is
eligible to vote at any meeting of the Trustees .
3.5 All Trustees must retire at each AGM.
3.6 A Trustee's term of office automatically terminates if he or she:
3.6.1 Is disqualified under the Charities Act 1993 from acting as a charity trustee
3.6.2 is incapable, whether mentally of physically, of managing his or her own affairs
3.6.3 is absent from three consecutive meeting of the Trustees
3.6.4 Ceases to be member but such a person may be reinstated by resolution passed by all the other
Trustees on resuming membership of the Charity before the next AGM
3.6.5 Resigns by written notice to the Trustees (but only if at least two Trustees will remain in office)
3.6.6 Is removed by resolution passed by at least 75% of the members present and voting at a general
meeting after the meeting has invited the views of the Trustee concerned and considered the matter in the
light of any such views
3.7 The Trustees may at any time coopt
any person duly qualified to be appointed as a Trustee to fill a vacancy in
their number or as an additional Trustee, but a coopted
Trustee holds office only until the next AGM
3.8 A technical defect in the appointment of a Trustee of which the Trustees are unaware at the time does not
invalidate decisions taken at a meeting

 

4. PRPCEEDINGS OF TRUSTEES

4.1 The Trustees must hold at least 4 meetings each year
4.2 A quorum at a meeting of the Trustees is 3 Trustees
4.3 A meeting of the Trustees may be held either in person or by suitable electronic means agreed by the Trustees
in which all participants may communicate with all the other participants
4.4 The Chairperson or (or if the Chairperson is unable or unwilling to do so) some other Trustee chosen by the
Trustees present presides at each meeting
4.5 Every issue may be determined by a simple majority of the votes cast at a meeting but a written resolution
signed by all the Trustees is as valid as a resolution passed at a meeting (and for this purpose the resolution may
be contained in more than one document and will be treated as passed on the date of the last signature)
4.6 Except for the chairperson of the meeting who has a second or casting vote, every Trustee has one vote on
each issue
4.7 A procedural defect of which the Trustees are unaware at the time does not invalidate decisions taken at a
meeting

 

5. POWER OF TRUSTEES

The Trustee5.1 to appoint (and remove) any member (who may be a Trustee) to act as Secretary to the Charity in
accordance with the Act
5.2 To appoint a Chairperson, Treasurer and other honorary officers from among their number
5.3 To delegate any of their functions to committees consisting of two or more individuals appointed by them (but at
least 1 member of every committee must be Trustee and all proceedings of committees must be reported promptly
to the Trustees)
5.4 To make Standing Orders consistent with the Memorandum, these Article, and the Act to govern proceedings at
general meetings
5.5 To make Rules consistent with the Memorandum, these Articles and the Act to govern proceedings at their
meetings and at meetings of committees
5.6 To make Regulations consistent with the Memorandum, these Articles and the Act to govern the administration
of the Charity and the use of its seal (if any)
5.7 To establish procedures to assist the resolution of disputes within the Charity
5.8 To exercise any powers of the Charity which are not reserved to a general meeting

 

6. RECORDS & ACCOUNTS

6.1 The Trustees must comply with the requirements of the Act and of the Charities Act 1993 as to keeping financial
records, the audit of accounts and the preparation and transmission to the Registrar of Companies and the
Commission of:
6.1.1 Annual reports
6.1.2 Annual returns
6.1.3 Annual statements of account
6.2 The Trustees must keep proper records of
6.2.1 All proceedings at general meetings
6.2.2 All proceedings at meetings of the Trustees
6. 6.2.4 all professional advice obtained
6.3 Accounting records relating to the Charity must be made available for inspection by any Trustee at any
reasonable time during normal office hours and may be made available for inspection by members who are not
Trustees if the Trustees so decide ..
6.4 A copy of the Charity's latest available statement of account must be supplied on request to any Trustee or
member or to any other person who makes a written request and pays the Charity's reasonable costs within two
months

 

7. NOTICES

7.1 Notices under these Articles may be sent by hand, or by post or by suitable electronic means or (where
applicable to members generally) may be published in any suitable journal or newspaper or any newsletter
distributed by the Charity .
7.2 The only address at which a member is entitled to receive notices is the address shown in the register of
members
7.3 Any notice given in accordance with these Articles is to be treated for all purposes as having been received
7.3.1 24 hours after being sent by electronic means or delivered by hand to the relevant address
7.3.2 Two clear days after being sent by first class post to that address
7.3.3 Three clear days after being sent by second class or overseas post to that address
7.3.4 On the date of publication of a newspaper containing the notice
7.3.5 On being handed to the member (or, in the case of a member organisation, its authorised
representative) personally or if earlier.
7.3.6 as soon as the member acknowledges actual receipt
7.4 A technical defect in the giving of notice of which the Trustees are unaware at the time does not invalidate
decisions taken at a meeting

8. DISSOLUTION
The provisions of the Memorandum relating to dissolution of the Charity take effect as though repeated here
2.3 All reports of committees and

9. INTERPRETATION
In the Memorandum in and in the Articles:
9.1 'The Act’ means the Companies Act 1985
'AGM' means an annual general meeting of the Charity
'Authorised representative' means an individual who is authorised by a member organisation to act on its
behalf at meetings of the Charity and whose name is given to the Secretary
'Chairperson' means the chairperson of the Trustees
'the Charity' means the company governed by these articles
'charity trustee' has the meaning prescribed by section 97 (1) of the Charities Act 1993
'clear day' means 24 hours from midnight following the relevant event
'the commission' means the Charity Commissioners for England and Wales
'EGM' means an extraordinary general meeting of the Charity
'financial expert' means an individual, company or firm who is an authorised person or an
exempted person within the meaning of the Financial Services Act 1986
'material benefit' means a benefit which may not be financial but has a monetary value
'member' and 'membership' refer to membership of the Charity means the Charity's memorandum of
'Memorandum association
'month' means calendar month
'the objects' means the Objects of the Charity as defined in clause 3 of the Memorandum
'Secretary' means the Secretary of the Charity
'Trustee' means a director of the Charity and 'Trustees' means all of the directors
'Written' or 'in writing' means the Secretary of the Charity
'Year' means calendar year

9.2 Expressions defined in the Act have the same meaning

9.3 References to an Act of Parliament are to the Act as amended or reenacted
from time to time and to any
subordinate legislation made under it

Absence Management Policy

0. Introduction

0.1. All members of staff as Peer Managers can act as the nominated liaison with an absent employee.

0.2. It is the obligation of the absent employee to not just notify of the absence (see section 1.2) but also to indicate who they would like to nominate as liaison.

0.3. Staff member oblgations

0.3.0 It is the obligation of the nominated member of staff to ensure:

0.3.1. self certification form is completed

0.3.2. record and review sickness monitoring form

0.3.3. maintain communication to wider staff team and manage/delegate any workload for the absent staff member

0.3.4. return to work interview

 

1. General

1.1.0. General principles

1.1.0.1. Oblong is committed to the health and welfare of its employees. However, Oblong has very limited resources for covering staff absence. This policy is designed to ensure that all staff absent from work due to sickness are managed compassionately and fairly and that the organisation is able, as far as possible, to maintain staff effectiveness.

1.1.0.2. Sickness absence from work will be assumed to be genuine. Oblong will strive to ensure that sick employees are managed in a sensitive and caring manner.

1.1.0.3. Oblong recognises that the ill health of one member of staff may affect the well-being of other staff members by imposing additional burdens of work or by disrupting peer management and support structures. Oblong will attempt to take account of the needs of the whole organisation in resolving health problems.

1.1.0.4. High levels of staff sickness will be investigated to ascertain if there are any underlying workplace issues which will then be addressed.

1.1.0.5. The Peer manager will keep up to date through frequent contact on progress during absence and arrange home visits and support as appropriate.

1.1.0.6. Absence from work through sickness or because of injury does not affect continuity of employment.
Nor does it exclude an employee from the right to be involved in any consultations with management that are relevant to their future employment and would, had they not been absent, have involved her/him. Staff who are absent because of sickness or injury will not, however, be required to participate in any kind of work or consultation.

1.1.0.7. Oblong will endeavour to promote and develop policies that lead to a healthy workforce.

1.1.0.8. The Board of Trustees, as the employers, have a general duty to provide a safe working environment for staff. Each employee also has a duty of care to him/herself and to others, including the responsibility to observe safety procedures, report accidents, to follow fire procedures and all health and safety training.

1.1.1. Sickness and annual leave.

1.1.1.1. If staff are sick during holiday periods they are entitled to take this as sick leave and take their holidays at a later date, subject to usual sickness recording and reporting procedures.

1.1.1.2. If an employee is sick during annual leave they can convert the days annual leave into sickness with medical evidence.     

1.1.1.3. Holiday will continue to accrue during any period that an employee is off sick.     

1.1.1.4. All staff dealing with employees who have been absent and who have access to absence records must have due regard to the need for confidentiality.

1.1.2. Communication

1.1.2.1. Oblong will provide each employee with a copy of this statement as part of his/her induction. Peer managers and employees should aim to discuss informally, as early as possible, any health matters which are of concern either to the staff team or the employee him/herself.

1.1.3. Rehabilitation and health records

1.1.3.1. Because Oblong is a small organisation in terms of staff numbers, finances and other resources, there is likely to be only limited opportunity for rehabilitation, redeployment or counselling. However, where existing employees are found to be incapable of continuing their current duties due to ill health, these options will be carefully considered.

1.1.3.2. The policy requires that reports from an employee’s GP and/or other independent medical practitioners may be requested. Employees will be asked for their permission to gain access to medical records prior to any request for a report or examination being submitted. Employees have the right to see such a report, to add their own comments if they wish, and then decide whether or not it can be released to Oblong. Where a report is not released, or where an employee does not give permission to a request for a GP report/ independent medical examination, Oblong will need to make decisions relating to possible future action  under this policy on the basis of the medical evidence available to them.

1.1.4. Concurrent issues

1.1.4.2. Where an employee is (or becomes) involved in     other matters, or other issues are brought to light during an absence management procedure, the sickness procedures may be superseded by the disciplinary or other procedure such as capability or redundancy.

 

1.2 Notification and certification

1.2.0. The following procedure must be followed to ensure staff are paid accurately. If this procedure is not adhered to it may affect accurate payment of salaries.

1.2.1. Notification

1.2.1.1. The employee wherever possible, or someone acting on their behalf, must contact all staff working that day by 9am, and never later than 10:30 am, giving an indication of the likely length of absence if known. This contact should include the Peer manager, noting the first day of absence,and the expected date of return. If the illness continues beyond the expected date of return, the employee must contact the Peer manager again giving the new expected date of return.

1.2.1.2. During the period of sickness the Peer manager may contact the employee by phone, email, letter or in person, either to enquire about wellbeing, to offer support, to discuss a phased return to work or reasonable adjustments or for some other reasonable purpose.

1.2.1.3. If an employee is not contactable during sickness absence, the organisation reserves the right to cease sick pay until lack of contact can be satisfactorily explained.

1.2.1.4. An employee who prefers not to discuss his/her medical condition with the Peer manager because of the sensitive or personal nature of the information, may choose instead discuss with their supervisor first and leave the operational liaison to the Peer manager.

1.2.2. Certification

1.2.2.1. Any illness of 7 days or less must be self-certified on return to work on the form provided. For illness of more than 7 days (including weekends) a doctor's certificate is required.  

1.2.2.2. If an employee is given a ‘fit note’ by a doctor (i.e. a medical certificate which recommends a supported and/or conditional return to work), Peer manager will meet with the employee as soon as possible to explore the possibilities of facilitating a return to work within the doctor’s recommended guidelines and to establish the nature and time scale of any supportive measures that might be appropriate.

1.2.2.3. If Oblong is unable to implement the doctor’s suggested conditions or has not yet met with the employee, the fit note will be treated as a sick note and the employee will receive their contractual sick pay entitlement.

 

1.3. Sickness monitoring

1.3.1. Peer manager should ensure that individual sickness records are kept for each employee, showing details of absences, reason, and whether they are self certified or medically certified. Where possible, and where the employee concerned explicitly agrees, records should also note if the sickness absence is the direct result of a recognised disability.

1.3.2. On returning to work, all staff must countersign their sickness records kept by the Peer manager. Individual records should be updated after each absence and reviewed by the Peer manager on a regular basis. Sickness records are confidential. They should be kept for three years and then destroyed.

1.3.3. Monitoring disability leave

1.3.3.1. Depending on the circumstances, ‘disability leave’ (as opposed to ‘sickness leave’) may be dealt with separately when responding to trigger points.

1.3.3.2. Disability leave should never be seen as a disciplinary issue, though it may require consideration of alternative strategies for ensuring that necessary work gets done.

 

1.4. Return to work contact

1.4.1. After each period of sickness absence the Peer manager should see (or talk to by phone) the employee who has been absent in private, either on their return to work or as soon as possible thereafter. Employees will also need to countersign their sickness record (‘self-certify’). The aim of this contact is to ascertain that employees are fit for work and to check whether there are any continuing health problems or if they need support in any way. It is not to give any sort of disciplinary or other warning or threat or to treat the case as suspicious. It is, rather, an opportunity to express concern.

 

1.5. Employees with disabilities

1.5.1. In all cases of sickness absence the Peer manager must ascertain if the physical or mental health of the employee comes under the definition of disability (as defined within the Equality Act 2010), note this on the sickness absence record if the employee concerned explicitly agrees and act accordingly. In general this will mean considering whether ‘reasonable adjustments’ can be made to the employee’s working environment or to their job description in order to accommodate the disability.

1.5.2. It should also mean that ‘trigger points’ are used to consider such adjustments and not as disciplinary concerns when conducting the review procedures outlined below. It may also involve seeking specialist advice from an appropriate employment / disability agency.

1.5.3. Where no reasonable adjustment is identified or where the resources of the organisation make such an adjustment impossible or impracticable, the procedures will proceed as described below.

 

2. Short term or intermittent absence

2.0.1. Short term sickness absences from work are defined as those lasting up to one working week. While Oblong understands there will inevitably be some short-term sickness among employees, it must also pay due regard to the needs of the organisation. If an employee is frequently and persistently absent from work, this can damage efficiency and productivity, and place an additional burden of work on the employee’s colleagues.

2.02. By implementing this policy, Oblong aims to strike a reasonable balance between the running of the organisation and the genuine needs of employees to take occasional short periods of time off work because of sickness.

 

2.1. Intervention levels - trigger points

2.1.0. The following trigger points will operate for formal First formal review meeting intervention in cases of short term sickness absence:

2.1.1. either:
where the employee has had four separate absences lasting a working week or less within a twelve month period

2.1.2. or:
where an employee has had two working weeks cumulative of ‘self-certified’ absence within a twelve month period

2.1.3. or:
where any unacceptable trend is identified (e.g. repeated absences linked to weekends or other breaks).

 

2.2. First formal review meeting

2.2.1. Where an employee has reached one or more of these trigger points, the Peer manager will carry out a review of the record at the first available opportunity and will formally discuss the issue with the employee. The employee’s supervisor (or other trustee) can be present at the meeting at the request of the employee or the Peer manager.

2.2.1.1. The extent of the trustee’s involvement at this stage will depend on a number of factors, including the pattern of absence, the employee’s record and general sickness absence levels within the team. This meeting will primarily aim to resolve difficulties, from both the perspective of the organisation and the individual employee.

2.2.1.2. Since this is a formal meeting, the employee will be advised of their right to be accompanied by a trade union official or other mutually acceptable companion of their choice and will be given sufficient prior notification of the meeting to make any necessary arrangements.

2.2.2. Following the review of the sickness record, the Trustee and Peer manager will need to agree with the employee an appropriate course of action. Some of the options for consideration are:

2.2.2.1. agree there is no need for immediate action

2.2.2.2. agree to continue to monitor the situation over a specified timescale (maximum one year)

2.2.2.3. attempt to resolve any working difficulties, especially (but not exclusively) by making ‘reasonable adjustments’ to facilitate continued working. If the absences are related to a disability this is mandatory.

2.2.2.4. advise the employee to consult his/her GP

2.2.2.5. seek a medical opinion from the employee’s GP or another nominated medical practitioner

2.2.2.5.1. Any report on an employee’s health will relate to her/his absence from work and fitness for her/his employment. As required by law, Oblong will always seek the written permission of the employee concerned before contacting their GP or another medical practitioner.

2.2.3. The agreed outcomes of this meeting will be minuted, and minutes agreed by all participants.

 

2.3. Review period

2.3.1. In the period following the initial meeting the Peer manager may undertake follow-up action and discuss the matter further with the employee as necessary.

2.3.2. The sickness record will be kept under review and if there is no satisfactory improvement within the specified timescale as determined at the initial meeting, a second formal meeting may take place.

 

2.4. Second formal review meeting

2.4.1. Where absences continue at an unsatisfactory level, for example when time off for sickness continues at levels similar to those set out in section 2 above, the employee may again be required to meet formally with the Peer manager and the Chair of the Board of Trustees to explore reasons for continuing absence. The Chair must be involved at this stage.

2.4.2. The employee will be told in writing that the purpose of the meeting is to formally express concern about the continuing level of absence with an outline of the details causing concern. He or she will be given the opportunity to be accompanied/ represented by a trade union official or other mutually acceptable companion of his or her choice and will be given sufficient notice of the meeting to make necessary arrangements (at least three working days). At the meeting, the Chair will again outline the cause for concern and the employee (or his/her representative) will be given a chance to respond.

2.4.3. Before deciding on any action, the Chair should consider:

2.4.3.1. the overall sickness record

2.4.3.2. any medical evidence, including any factors relating to a recognised disability

2.4.3.3. any mitigating factors/explanations presented by the employee

2.4.3.4. the degree of disruption caused by the absence

2.4.3.5. the likelihood of improvement

2.4.3.6. the employee’s length of service and past work record

2.4.4. The Chair may choose one or more of the following options:

2.4.4.1. Agree, and confirm in writing, that there is no need for immediate action but to keep the sickness record under review for a specified period (maximum of one year).

2.4.4.2. Attempt to resolve any working difficulties especially (but not exclusively) by making ‘reasonable adjustments’ if the absences are related to a disability.

2.4.4.3. Defer a decision pending further medical reports or other evidence concerning the employee’s health as it relates to her/his absence from work and fitness for her/his employment. As required by law, Oblong will always seek the written permission of the employee concerned before contacting their GP or another medical practitioner.

2.4.5. Also you may wish to:

2.4.5.1. consider other roles available within Oblong

2.4.5.2. formally notify the employee in writing that their attendance is unacceptable and that this is having a detrimental effect on the performance of their duties and set a timescale for improvement (maximum of one year)

2.4.5.3. formally notify the employee in writing that their employment is liable to be terminated due to incapability on grounds of ill-health unless an acceptable standard is reached within a given timescale

2.4.5.4. notify the employee in writing that the reason(s) for their absence is unacceptable and you are invoking the disciplinary procedure and issuing a formal warning with appeal

 

2.5. Final review meeting

2.5.1. If another review period has been stipulated at the second formal meeting, and it is apparent that the desired improvement has not taken place, and there are no acceptable mitigating circumstances identified, then a further review meeting may be held on the same terms as the second meeting.

2.5.2 The Chair of the Board of Trustees and a further Trustee must also be involved at this stage .

2.5.3. The employee will be notified in writing that this meeting could result in the termination of her/his employment due to incapability on grounds of ill-health. The employee must always be given the opportunity to be represented/ accompanied when termination of employment is a possibility.

2.5.4. Any decision to terminate employment will be made by the Peer manager, Chair and an additional member of the Board of Trustees.

2.5.4.1. This will be confirmed in writing and within three working days of the decision.

 

2.6. Appeal

2.6.1. The employee will have a right of appeal against a decision to terminate employment to a panel of up to three people selected from the remaining members of the Board of Trustees. Such an appeal will be held as soon as practicable and without any unnecessary delay.

 

2.7. Non-attendance at review meetings

2.7.1. Where an employee fails to attend a sickness absence review meeting without evidence or good reason for non-attendance, then the Chair and Peer manager (and Board of Trustees’ Chair or other representative at Stage 3) will decide how to proceed.

2.7.2. If the meeting goes ahead without the employee, he/she will be informed of this and then the decision made at the meeting. Both will be in writing and within three working days of the decision.

 

3. Long term sickness absence

3.0.0 Long term sickness is regarded as a continuous absence of four consecutive weeks or more.

3.0.1. It is important to recognise that dealing with long-term sickness is not usually a disciplinary issue. Warnings to genuinely sick employees on grounds of ill health are inappropriate.

3.0.2. However, when capability issues arise, it is essential that employees understand that their future employment is at risk due to ill health through proper warnings and have support either from Oblong or a family member. In such circumstances every effort will be made to avoid termination by exploring with the employee and their supporter alternative options.

3.0.3. Many cases of long-term sickness involve substantial personal and medical confidentiality and all staff & trustees involved in the monitoring procedures must respect this.

3.0.4. A key element in the management of long term sickness is to maintain regular agreed contact with employees. This contact is important both to ensure that the employee feels supported/informed during their absence and to assess the likely duration of the absence for operational purposes. Contact should, if possible, be two-way and may be achieved by post, by telephoning the employee at home, arranging for the employee to visit the office or by visiting the employee at home (with prior agreement and notification). The purpose of the contact is to:

3.0.4.1. provide appropriate support

3.0.4.2. enquire into the medical position

3.0.4.3. establish whenever possible when the employee will be able to resume work

3.0.4.4. ascertain what steps the employee and/or employer can take to aid recovery

3.0.4.5. determine what action, if any, to take

 

3.1. Initial review

3.1.1. Where an employee has been absent for a continuous period of four weeks or longer, the Peer manager and Chair of the Board of Trustees will meet, together with the employee if appropriate and if they wish to be present, to determine future action. The employee need not be present if this would cause stress or anxiety or if the situation is clear. The Peer manager following the meeting will report back to the employee to confirm the substance of any options or decisions. These could include:

3.1.1.1. no further action

3.1.1.2. offering support to the employee, both in relation to the medical condition and also with regard to any working difficulties and any personal or emotional difficulties. This could, for instance, involve changes in hours, location, duties or physical aids/adaptations.

3.1.1.3. considering a phased return to work

3.1.1.4. consider other roles available within Oblong

3.1.1.5. determining if and when further review meetings will be held to consider developments

 

3.2. Further review meetings / seeking medical reports

3.2.1. The nature of further review meetings to reconsider the above options will depend on the circumstances of the case. It is important that the situation is monitored and regularly reconsidered in the light of medical or other developments, so that both the employee and the organisation can be helped to manage the situation and to make informed decisions. However, it is also important to treat the matter sensitively and with due regard to the effects of stress and anxiety on an employee who is genuinely sick. Reviews should be approached in the spirit of offering support. Further review meetings may thus be more or less formal.

3.2.2. In some cases, where it is possible that termination of employment may become an option, the employee should be made aware of this and invited to bring a companion/representative to any meetings. Written notice should be given of meetings and the outcome should be recorded and agreed. If appropriate, these review meetings may involve the Chair of the Board of Trustees.

3.2.3. Further reviews may also decide to seek a medical report from the employee’s GP for information about her/his health as it relates to her/his absence from work and fitness for her/his employment. As required by law, Oblong will always seek the written permission of the employee concerned before contacting their GP or another medical practitioner. Seeking medical reports should not be done without good reason, for instance to get a diagnosis of the operational implications of the absence and to identify any appropriate support measures. To ensure that a relevant report is prepared, as much background information should be given as possible (e.g. current duties, job description, sickness record) together with a clear indication of the advice required. In particular Oblong will enquire about the relevance of the Equality Act and any reasonable adjustments that would facilitate a return to work. Oblong will pay any necessary doctor’s charges for supplying this information.

 

3.3. Support for those returning after long term absence

3.3.1. It is important to recognise that for some employees a return to work can be stressful and that anxiety can build up around this time. Prior to the employee’s return the Peer manager must meet with them / make contact and find out what sort of support will help their re-introduction to the workplace e.g. reduced hours, reallocated duties (temporary or permanent), re-training, supervisory support or other reasonable adjustments. It is vital that a re-entry strategy is developed for employees returning after a period of long-term absence. However, the level of support offered must be realistic within the resource constraints of Oblong.

 

3.4. Final review meeting

3.4.1. Unless there are exceptional circumstances, no employee will be dismissed on medical grounds where medical reports indicate that they are likely to return in the foreseeable medium term.

3.4.2. However, if the medical prognosis warrants it, a final review meeting may be held with the Chair of the Board of Trustees to consider medical retirement or termination of employment on the basis of ill health incapability. This meeting may make the decision to terminate employment.

3.4.3. The employee must be advised of this meeting in advance and be given plenty of opportunity to be represented/ accompanied by a Trade Union representative or mutually acceptable person of their choice. Any decision made must be communicated to the employee in writing within three working days.

 

3.5. Appeal

3.5.1. The employee will have a right of appeal against a decision to terminate employment to a panel of up to three people selected from the remaining members of the Board of Trustees. Such an appeal will be heard as soon as is practicable and without any unnecessary delay.

3.5.2. Example pay schemes

3.5.2.1. When your appointment has been confirmed you will be entitled to company sickness payments. The maximum number of weeks for which sickness payments are paid in a 12-month period is:

3.5.2.1.1. after the first year of service, 2 weeks full pay and 2 weeks half pay

3.5.2.1.2. after the second year of service, 1 months full pay and 1 months half pay

3.5.2.1.3. after the third year of service, 6 weeks full pay and 6 weeks half pay

3.5.2.1.4. after the fourth year of service, 2 months full pay and 2 months half pay

3.5.2.2. Any periods of paid sickness absence (including self - certified absence) in the 52 weeks immediately preceding the commencement of a new period of sickness absence will count against the above entitlement (i.e. a ‘rolling year’).

4. Relevant legislation

 

5. Related policies

  • Disciplinary Policy (Scheduled for ratification Q1 2015-16)
  • Data Protection Policy

 

This policy was based on the Pay and Employment Rights Service (PERS) (Absence management policy), model policy, dated July 2013.

Ratified 13/1/2014 by Trustees

Acceptable Behaviour and Problem Solving Policy

0. Background

0.1. This policy is Oblong’s attempt to be as clear as possible about what are the acceptable boundaries for behaviour, and what the procedure will be when these boundaries are crossed. 

0.2. The processes below may take time, but we believe that it is worth the investment of this time so that people are given the opportunity to listen and learn from each other, and for the outcome to be less likely to lead to future conflict.

 

1. Acceptable Behaviour

1.1. We want to create a safe space for everyone.

1.2. Unacceptable behaviour includes, but is not limited to:
1.2.1. intimidation and harassment 
1.2.2. being under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs
1.2.3. misuse of internet for pornography or illegal purposes
1.2.4. misuse of Oblong’s property or name in a way that could damage our reputation
1.2.5. not following health & safety guidance
1.2.6. racism, sexism, homophobia and other forms of discrimination and prejudice
1.2.7. physical violence or assault
1.2.8. deliberate damage to property
1.2.9. theft

 

2. General principles

2.1. In order to promote equality of opportunity Oblong expects all volunteers to adhere to the following –

2.1.1. Respect for others and to treat others equally

2.1.2. Be sensitive to the needs of others

2.1.3. Be friendly and helpful

2.1.4. Not to engage in offensive behaviour within Oblong or at Oblong events.
This includes racism, homophobia, sexism, aggressive and unpleasant behaviour.

2.2. This policy applies to incidents which take place at Oblong, during Oblong activities, or when a connection to Oblong clearly plays a role in the incident. This means:
Both (or all) people involved in the incident have a direct connection to Oblong - i.e. they are Oblong volunteers (not simply Woodhouse Community Centre users); OR
At least one person involved has a direct connection to Oblong, and the subject matter of the dispute is directly related to Oblong 

2.3. This policy applies to all volunteers, including trustees.  For incidents involving a member of staff, the Disciplinary Policy will be followed for the member of staff and this Acceptable Behaviour Policy will be followed for the volunteer.

 

3. Problem Solving Procedure

3.1. If you have complaint about a volunteer’s or staff member’s behaviour, you should talk to them first to try to sort out the problem informally.

3.2. If the person complaining has tried and failed to resolve the issue then they should raise the matter with a Volunteer Co-ordinator personally or put it in writing. If the complaint is about a Volunteer Co-ordinator then the volunteer should approach another member of staff.

3.3. A member of staff will investigate the problem and discuss with the volunteer what action, if any, they would like taken. A member of staff will then investigate the complaint by interviewing the person(s) who has had the complaint made against them and any potential witnesses. If the complaint is about a member of staff, it will be dealt with using the Disciplinary Policy from this point forward. Please ask us if you would like to see a copy of this separate policy.

3.4. At the meeting with the person(s) who have been complained about the member of staff will:

3.4.1. Ask for their version of events

3.4.2. Relay any specific observations about their behaviour

3.4.3. Clarify what is acceptable behaviour in Oblong

3.4.4. Explain what action they are going to take

3.4.5. Explain what will happen if the behaviour continues

3.4.6. If appropriate, discuss with the individual any support or training needs that may help them manage their behaviour more effectively.

3.5. The member of staff will then make a decision either to:

3.5.1. Take no further action

3.5.2. Invite the parties concerned to a mediation meeting

3.5.3. Verbally warn the volunteer(s) who has been complained about that any similar behaviour within a specified time period will result in further disciplinary action being taken by Oblong

3.5.4. Issue a written warning to the volunteer, making clear the unacceptable behaviour, the time limit and the consequences of the warning.

3.5.5. Suspend the volunteer’s participation in Oblong for a specified period of time, making clear the terms of return.

3.5.6. Permanently exclude the volunteer from Oblong. 

3.6. The staff member’s decision will be communicated to all parties within 10 working days of the matter being raised. In the case of a written warning, suspension or permanent exclusion, a written record will be kept on the volunteer’s file and provided to the volunteer.

3.7. If the person(s) being complained about agrees to the proposals made then this will be the end of the matter.

 

4. Appeal

4.1. If the person who is complained about does not agree they can appeal in writing to the Chair of the Directors of Oblong. This should be done within 5 working days of the proposals being conveyed to the parties concerned. 

4.2. The chairperson will ensure that the matter is considered by an Appeals Panel, which will consist of between three and six people, including two directors and a minimum of two users, volunteers.
This panel will be appointed by the Board of Directors.

4.2.1. Anyone involved with the original complaint will be excluded from sitting on the panel.

4.3. The decision of the Appeals Panel will be final.

 

5. Confidentiality

5.1. Every stage of this process must be recorded and kept confidential to the said parties.

 

6. Relevant Legislation

The Equality Act 2010

The Data Protection Act 1998

 

7. Related Policies

Disciplinary Policy (Scheduled for ratification Q1 2015-16)

Credit Card Policy and Procedures

Ratified 18/1/2011 by Trustees

Data Protection Policy

1. General principles

1.0.1. Oblong recognises the right to privacy of the individual as a basic human right. We accept that personal details about an individual belong to that individual. Accordingly we undertake to respect the confidentiality of certain information.

1.0.2. Personal data is defined as ‘information about a living individual who is identifiable by that information, or who could be identified by the information combined with other data’. It includes names, addresses, identifying descriptions and information relating to individuals such as bank details or personal attributes.

1.0.3. Confidential information is defined as verbal or written information which is not meant for public or general knowledge, or information which is regarded as personal by clients, members, trustees, staff or volunteers. It includes expressed opinion about a person or intentions regarding a person.

1.0.4. This policy relates to the protection of the privacy of staff, volunteers, job applicants, trustees, members, service users and any other person about whom Oblong holds personal information of a formal or an informal nature.

1.0.5. Confidentiality is based upon a reasoned concern for the interests of the person to whose personal information Oblong has access. Respecting confidentiality means that information may be disclosed only with consent and when necessary, and that consultation and discussion remains within those boundaries. This protects the integrity of both Oblong and of individuals.

1.0.6. Where there is uncertainty about issues around confidentiality, advice should be sought from other staff  and, where appropriate, trade unions.

1.0.7. Failure to observe this policy or misuse of personal data is a disciplinary offence and may even constitute a criminal offence. Please refer especially to the section titled ‘Staff obligations’.

1.0.8. Data Protection Act 1998

1.0.8.1. Oblong takes seriously its obligations under the Data Protection Act 1998. We are registered with the Information Commissioner. Our registration, which is renewed annually, allows us to collect, store and use certain personal information following strict guidelines. These guidelines define the purposes for which we hold information: in our case, this is information for the purposes of staff administration, membership administration, fundraising and realising our charitable objectives.
Within these groups, the guidelines define the data subjects (i.e. the individuals about whom that information is held), the classes of data (i.e. what kind of information is held) and the data recipients (i.e. who has access to it).

1.0.8.2. In particular, the Data Protection Act requires that personal information should be adequate, relevant and not excessive; that it should be stored securely and used only for its intended purposes; and if possible processed only with the consent of the person concerned. Oblong will comply with these requirements and will extend the principles of data protection to apply to all forms of personal information.

 

1.1. Personal Information relating to staff    

1.1.0. Oblong holds information about employees to do with their working life in order to fulfil its responsibilities as an employer. Personal information is also held about Trustees. Much of this information is highly personal and Oblong recognises its duty to safeguard the data by all means possible and to notify staff about what is kept and why, along with information about how the data can be accessed and by whom.

1.1.2. What data?

1.1.2.1. Information held by Oblong will include:

1.1.2.1.1 Information relating to recruitment and selection such as application forms; shortlisting and interview assessments; references; proof of eligibility to work in the UK; where relevant, unspent criminal records and/or the outcome of Criminal Record Bureau/ Disclosure and Barring investigations.

1.1.2.1.2. Personal details of home address, phone number, next of kin.

1.1.2.1.3. Information necessary for payment of salaries, such as bank details, national     insurance number, details of deductions to e.g. the courts or trade     unions, expenses claims.

1.1.2.1.4. Information about academic and vocational qualifications and experience.

1.1.2.1.5. Notes of probationary and annual reviews and supervisions.

1.1.2.1.6. Sick notes, and medical assessments, including information relating to disabilities.

1.1.2.1.7. Absence records, including sickness absence, compassionate leave, unauthorised absences.

1.1.2.1.8. Time sheets and holiday sheets.

1.1.2.1.9. Details of grievance and disciplinary proceedings including current warnings (within the timescales allowed by the appropriate policies).

1.1.2.1.10. Reference requests and responses.

1.1.2.2. ‘Sensitive’ data in particular, such as racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union membership, health, sex life, or criminal convictions will only be processed if necessary or advantageous to the employment relationship and with the explicit consent of the individual employee. Sick notes, absence records and other health-related information are classed as ‘sensitive information’ and particular care must be taken to ensure that these are stored securely and that access is limited to staff who need to see them.

1.1.3. Why?

1.1.3.1. The data kept on staff is primarily in relation to their employment with Oblong. This data will be used for the purpose of administering and managing their employment.

1.1.3.2. Information about Trustees is held for registration with the Charity Commission and Companies House and for some funding applications.

1.1.3.3. Personal information about employees and volunteers may also be kept for the purposes of applying for funding, obtaining insurance or responding to requests for information from Government offices, the Charity Commissioners or other reputable bodies.

1.1.3.4. Where possible, sensitive information will not be tied to individuals but will be given in anonymised statistical formats only.

1.1.3.5. No unrelated data will be kept and any sensitive data (excluding health and criminal records) held by the organisation will be deleted at the request of the individual concerned.

1.1.4. Where?

1.1.4.1. All personnel data is kept either in locked filing cabinets, password protected computer files or secure password protected cloud based CRM or document system (EU compliant safeguarded hosting).

1.1.4.2. Most personal data is kept in individual personnel files in the staff office and these are locked. Other data (eg bank details, NI number) is kept by the staff office also on password protected computer files and in a locked filing cabinet.

1.1.4.3. Supervisors keep staff files covering supervision sessions plus any job-related information necessary for management.

1.1.4.4. Some personal information, including names and photographs, may be published in e.g. newsletters, annual reports, publicity leaflets or the organisation’s website. This information will not include home or personal contact details. Staff may request that all or any personal information and/or photographs are restricted to internal access and this request should be complied with.

1.1.5. Whom?

1.1.5.1. Employees and Trustees give implied consent to Oblong to hold data as described above and to access and use it as outlined by accepting an offer of employment and agreeing to their Written Statement of Employment Particulars, or in the case of Trustees by filling in the Companies House registration form and Charity commision paperwork. Access to staff and Trustee data is on a ‘need to know’ basis.

1.1.5.2. Information may also be disclosed as required by law, contract or on a ‘need to know’ basis to trustees, auditors, pension providers, funders, insurers, government departments or other relevant parties/individuals.

1.1.5.3. Information will also be given to a transferor as required by law in the event of a transfer of undertaking.

1.1.5.4. Job Applicants

1.1.5.4.0. Job applicants are also covered by the Data Protection Act and by this policy

1.1.5.4.1. Oblong will design and process application forms and other information relating to applicants in line with the Act. Oblong will only request information which is relevant and not excessive and for the particular purposes of the selection process only.

1.1.5.4.2. This information will be securely stored and will only be accessed by staff that need to have it for purposes of administration or selection.

1.1.5.4.3. It will not be kept for longer than necessary for the needs of the organisation, normally no more than  six months for unsuccessful candidates.

1.1.5.4.4. Sensitive information relating to health, disability, criminal records and immigration status will only be requested where necessary for the protection of the organisation and/or its service users and will not be disclosed to anyone who does not need to know.

1.1.5.4.5. Sensitive information relating to gender, age, ethnicity and disability may be requested but will be used for equality and diversity monitoring purposes only. This information will not form part of the selection process and will not be processed or retained in any form which identifies the individual to whom it pertains.

1.1.5.4.6. The identity of job applicants should be kept confidential as far as possible and for as long as possible. Where a job offer is made, the names of the successful candidates should not be made public until the appointment has been accepted and confirmed.

1.1.5.4.7. Feedback on interview performance should be made without specific reference to other candidates.

1.1.6. How long?

1.1.6.1. Most information will be retained for as long as a person is employed by Oblong and for a reasonable period of time thereafter, not exceeding 6 years.

1.1.6.2. Sickness records will be stored securely at all times and will be kept for as long as a person is employed by Oblong and for a reasonable period thereafter, with the aim of destroying or deleting records after 3 years.

1.1.6.3. Disciplinary proceedings and warnings will be kept for the time stipulated in the policy concerned.

1.1.6.4. DBS documentation will not be retained although a record will be kept of the fact that a satisfactory/unsatisfactory check has been made. This will be kept on file for as long as necessary, or until the next check is carried out.

1.1.7. ICT

1.1.7.1. Personal data held on computers (including files, emails, databases etc) and personal data downloaded from the web are subject to the same control and restrictions as paper-based data. Staff must take particular care when using any personal data in these contexts. In particular, no personal information should be posted on the internet in any circumstances without compelling reasons and the explicit consent of the individual to whom the information relates.

1.1.8. Monitoring of Staff Activity

1.1.8.1. Staff should be aware that Oblong may, if they have reason to do so, monitor use of the internet and/or emails. Private emails will never be opened intentionally but staff should be aware of the possibility of accidental access and of the right of staff to question and investigate private use. 

Deliberate monitoring will only take place where there is good reason to suspect a disciplinary offence or another justified concern. 

Performance and quality control monitoring will be overt and for a clear purpose. Covert monitoring will not be permitted.

1.1.8 References

1.1.8.1. References given by an employer about a person currently working for them are exempt from some aspects of normal data protection rules. This means that an employee has no automatic right of access to a reference written about them by Oblong.  However, as a matter of good practice, Oblong will only respond to reference requests that are clearly authorised by the employee concerned.

1.1.8.2. As a general rule, employment-related references should only be given by the Supervisor. Personal references should be clearly stated as such and should not be on Oblongs headed paper. References must be objective, truthful and justifiable. Telephone references should not be given unless you have been asked to provide one by the person whom the reference concerns, and then you should initiate (or return) the phone call to the person to whom the reference is to be given to confirm identity.

1.1.8.3. Referees should bear in mind that although there is no automatic right for the subject of the reference to see it before it is sent, they will usually have a right to access any references written about them once they are received by a new/prospective employer.

 

1.2. Subject Access Requests (SARs)

1.2.1. Staff are entitled to see their own personnel files. To do so, they should arrange a mutually convenient time with the staff team. Access may be denied or limited where it involves disclosing information about or from an identified third party (e.g. a colleague) unless the third party concerned has given consent to the disclosure of that information.

1.2.2. As well as taking action to protect third party confidentiality, Oblong will not respond to subject access requests which:

1.2.2.1. disclose any information relating to management forecasts where this could jeopardise the business effectiveness of the organisation, or

1.2.2.2. reveal legal proceedings against an individual, except to those directly concerned     

 

1.3. Staff Obligations

1.3.1. Oblong is the Registered Data Controller and is responsible for notification to the Information Commissioner (http://ico.org.uk/). S/he should be deferred to with any questions relating to data protection or confidentiality. However, all staff are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy. They must:

1.3.1.1. Ensure that they have read and understood this policy as it relates to them.

1.3.1.2. Ensure that data which they supply or for which they are responsible is up-to-date, accurate, fair and relevant to its purpose, including information about themselves. Staff must notify the organisation of any changes in circumstance to enable the organisation to update personnel records accordingly.

1.3.1.3. Not keep any records on other individuals (whether other employees or clients/service users) which are unnecessary, incorrect or which contain unfounded opinion or speculation.

1.3.1.4. Not share personal information about other members of staff or clients/service users (e.g. sickness, personal circumstances), that they know as a result of handling confidential information (e.g. sick notes, application forms) or which is disclosed in confidential settings (e.g. supervision or counselling), without that person’s unambiguous agreement.     

1.3.1.5. Keep data secure. Paper and external computer files must be locked up, computers must be password protected; laptops and computer disks containing personal information, open computer screens, or open paper files must not be left unattended.

1.3.1.6. Not disclose, share or transfer outside the organisation any personal information relating to other staff, volunteers, trustees, or clients/service users without the explicit consent of the individual concerned.

1.3.1.7. Dispose of personal data safely. Paper notes and records must be shredded or disposed of as ‘confidential waste’. Hard drives of redundant PCs must be destroyed or wiped clean before disposal.

1.3.1.8. Particular care must be taken where personal data is processed ‘off-site’, at home or in other locations. This presents a greater risk of loss, damage or theft and staff must take appropriate security precautions.

 

1.4. Guidelines for disclosing information to internal and external sources

1.4.1. Internal information sharing

1.4.1.1. Oblong recognises that Trustees, staff and volunteers may need to share personal information with others internally within Oblong. This might include, for instance, discussion of client issues during supervision, discussion of situations to gain experience and opinion from colleagues, ‘on the job’ training. Care must be taken that this kind of information sharing is not done publicly or where it can be overheard. Such conversations should wherever possible be held without explicitly identifying the individual or organisation under discussion.

1.4.2. Supervision

1.4.2.1. Supervision sessions are in general confidential to the supervisor and the Oblong staff member.

1.4.2.2. Ground rules for when and why confidentiality may be broken should be agreed at the start of a supervision relationship and might include, for instance:

1.4.2.2.1. information about the progress of work against funding targets

1.4.2.2.2. complex or problematic case management

1.4.2.2.3. discussion of the implications for colleagues of a request for flexible working

1.4.2.2.4. some information to colleagues about personal circumstances which are temporarily affecting performance1.4.2.2.5. discussion of grievances or concerns about performance with a peer manager

1.4.2.3. Wherever possible, agreement about any breach of confidentiality should be reached in advance of the disclosure taking place.

1.4.2.4. Although the supervisor is bound by confidentiality, it is helpful for the supervisee to inform the supervisor if there are any personal circumstances which are particularly sensitive.

1.4.3. Answering requests for personal staff information

1.4.3.1. Personal information about a colleague should not usually be discussed with other staff or people outside Oblong without that person’s permission. Personal details including address and phone number, health matters or personal circumstances may not be passed on without explicit consent.

1.4.3.2. It is usually safe to reveal a colleague’s work contact (telephone and email address) in response to an enquiry regarding a work function, although these details should not be given to someone wishing to contact a colleague on a non-work related matter.

1.4.3.3. However, staff must not reveal personal details of other staff members to unknown or unverified external sources, even where these claim to be family members, friends, Government bodies or the police.

1.4.3.4. Strategies to deal with such enquiries could include:
Asking the enquirer to put their query in writing or into an email, if appropriate backed up by documentary evidence to support the request.
Informing the enquirer that a message will be passed on, either asking the person to contact the enquirer directly or agreeing to pass on a sealed envelope/incoming email message to the person.
Telling the enquirer that you will phone back once you have collected/verified the information required.

 

1.5. Organisational information

1.5.1. Trustees, staff and volunteers are bound by confidentiality in all matters relating to the internal affairs of Oblong. Confidential information concerning Board meetings, staff meetings, finances, recruitment, planning etc should not be disclosed outside the organisation unless authorisation is given to do so. This does not apply to disclosures made under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (‘whistle blowing’). 

1.5.2. No statements concerning internal matters or policy may be made to the media without the express permission of staff.

 

2.     Personal information relating to service users

2.0. Oblong is committed to respecting the confidentiality of those who use and/or support its services. This means respecting the right of members, benefactors, beneficiaries and volunteers to privacy and their right to expect that any personal information they give us will not be discussed or passed on to anyone outside Oblong without their permission.
Please refer to ‘staff obligations’ above for general instructions on the collection, use, storage and disposal of all personal information associated with the Oblong.

2.0.1. What data?

2.0.1.1. Personal or sensitive information could include names and addresses, membership details, medical and psychological conditions, financial status, employment status, living arrangements, criminal offences, and internal organisational issues/disputes. The information may be given in conversation or in written form, for example on an application/interview form or email.

2.0.2. Why?

2.0.2.1. Oblong keeps information on its clients/service users for the purposes of providing a service and meeting client needs.

2.0.2.2. Oblong will collect names and addresses, including email addresses, of volunteers for purposes of marketing our services or for quality control purposes. This information will only be used for these purposes with the knowledge and consent of the data subject (see ‘Collecting and safeguarding information’ below).

2.0.2.3. Oblong keeps information for applying for funding, monitoring how funds are spent and responding to request for information from Government offices, the Charity Commission and other reputable organisations. Statistical and depersonalised information may be used for campaigning purposes or publicity purposes.

2.0.2.4. No unrelated data will be kept and any sensitive data held by the organisation will be deleted at the request of the individual concerned.

2.0.3. Where?

2.0.3.1. All personal data is kept in locked filing cabinets and/or in password protected computer file or password protected cloud based systems.

 

2.1     Recording and accessing information

2.1.1. Written records of any dealings with clients/service users may be made with the client’s permission if the purpose of such records is clearly explained to the client. Only essential information should be recorded and these records must be processed in line with Data Protection principles, stored securely and destroyed when no longer needed. Voluntary agreement to supply personal information such as names and addresses will be taken to imply consent to recording that information for Oblong necessary purposes. However, where practicable, data protection information will be given and explicit consent will be sought (or the opportunity to withdraw consent will be offered) on an appropriate letter or form.

 

2.2     Sharing information

2.2.1. Where client information is to be shared with a partner organisation or where Oblong is contacting a third party on the client’s behalf, the client must if possible and practicable confirm their agreement by giving signed authorisation.

2.2.2. Where funders require personal information about the beneficiaries of services for audit purposes, this information will be collected on forms which clearly indicate who will receive the information and include provision for service users to sign a consent declaration.
Personal information should not be conveyed to other organisations or individuals via telephone calls or faxes without adequate safeguards regarding confidentiality.

2.2.3. External requests for information about an individual should not be sanctioned. Where appropriate, staff may agree to pass on the request to that individual to respond to if they so choose. See advice above for strategies for dealing with requests for information from unknown or unverified enquirers.

2.2.4. Email communications may not be private – please see Oblongs policy on email and internet use.

2.2.5. Names or contact details should never be released to the media in response to requests for ‘case studies’. Media enquiries may, however, be passed on to service users so that they can choose whether or not to respond to them.

2.2.6. Statistical information may be used for research, monitoring and funding purposes but must not be attributable to an individual. Where, for publicity purposes, Oblong wishes to use an attributed quotation from a client or service user the individual’s express permission must be sought before this can used.

 

2.3. Collecting and safeguarding information

2.3.1. Oblong also recognises its duty to safeguard the information it holds on external groups and individuals. Oblong will regularly update information, dispose of outdated data and check that storage and archive systems are secure.

2.3.2. All written materials membership applications and packs, registration forms, newsletter forms, training application forms etc will be designed to ensure that only necessary data is being collected and that this is kept with permission.

2.3.3. If Oblong wishes to use personal information for purposes such as ‘direct marketing’ (e.g. of courses or new services on offer), the organisation will inform the person concerned at the time of collecting the data that it may be used for this purpose. People/organisations will be provided with the opportunity to opt out of being contacted in this way (e.g. by ticking an opt-out box on a form or email).

2.3.4. Mailing and membership lists will only be passed on to other organisations/individuals in order to comply with funding/legal requirements or with the express consent of those listed.

 

2.4. Subject access requests (SARs)

2.4.1. Any member/user of Oblong is entitled to know what information is held about them, why and where it is held and who can access it. They have the right to see this information and to correct it if necessary. In order to see information, they should contact the staff team who will arrange a mutually convenient time for this or who will facilitate the involvement of other relevant staff.

 

3. Exceptions

3.1. Oblong reserves the right to break confidentiality if it believes that:

3.1.1. a child is at risk of being harmed

3.1.2. a person’s life or safety is at risk

3.1.3. if required by statute (e.g. there is a legal obligation to report drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorist activity to the police)

3.1.4. if required under a contractual obligation (e.g. where services are purchased by a local authority and that contract requires disclosure of certain information)

3.1.5. if required by a court order

3.2. Information may also be disclosed if the individual concerned has given explicit, preferably written, consent.

3.3. In particular, maintaining the confidentiality of identifiable third parties in the course of a ‘subject access request’ will be considered on a case by case basis.

3.4. In all the above cases, the Chair must be informed immediately.

3.5. In other cases where breaking confidentiality may seem appropriate, this must only be done with the knowledge of appropriate managers or trustees and the person whose confidentiality is to be breached must be informed. They should be informed of their right of complaint and appeal using the appropriate grievance procedure.

 

4.     Confidentiality statement (sample)

I agree to Oblong holding and sharing information about me in line with the Data Protection and Confidentiality Policy.

I understand that in the course of my work with Oblong I may learn facts about colleagues or about individuals or organisations with whom Oblong works. I recognise that these facts may be of a personal and confidential nature. I agree not to disclose any such information to any person not authorised by Oblong to hold such information without the express permission of the individual to whom the information pertains, or, in exceptional circumstances, the agreement of my line manager.

I agree to uphold this commitment to confidentiality both whilst I am working at Oblong and also in situations outside Oblong.

Signed:                     Date:

Name (please print):

 

5. Relevant legislation

  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Public Interest Disclosure Act 1998

 

6. Related Policies

  • Recruitment & Selection Policy

 

This policy was based on the Pay and Employment Rights Service (PERS) Data Protection model policy, dated April 13.

Ratified 15/04/2014 by Trustees

Equality and Diversity Policy

0.1. This is Oblong’s Equality and Diversity Policy and it forms a major part of our ethos. All employees are bound by its contents:

 

1. Equality and diversity statement

1.0. Oblong aims to promote equality and diversity as an employer and seeks to ensure that principles of equality and of appreciation of diversity underpin all areas of the organisation’s work and service provision.
 
1.1. Oblong recognises that many people and groups suffer discrimination and face serious barriers when trying to fulfil their true potential. It also recognises that not all forms of unreasonable and unfair discrimination are the subject of legislation. It is the aim of this organisation to take positive steps to redress discrimination, to improve equality of opportunity and to combat any unreasonable or unfair treatment which places people at a disadvantage for any reasons not directly related to their ability to do a job for this organisation or to their eligibility to get involved at Oblong.
 
1.2. In most cases it is unlawful to discriminate against people because of their gender or gender assignment, pregnancy and maternity, race, colour, nationality, ethnic and national origin, sexuality/sexual orientation, religion or belief, age, or because they are disabled, married or in a civil partnership, a member of a trade union, or because they work part time or on a fixed-term contract. It is also unlawful to discriminate against people either because they are perceived to have a certain characteristic or because they associate with someone who has a certain characteristic.
 
1.3. However we recognise that people may experience discrimination for many additional social, educational and economic reasons such as their language, health, caring responsibilities, trade union activity, where they live, how they speak and whether they work flexibly. This policy will apply equally to all these circumstances.
 
1.4. Oblong will not tolerate discrimination, harassment, bullying, victimisation or abuse of people who are members of staff or of people connected with the Oblong’s activities.

 

2. Management issues and delivery mechanisms

2.1. Oblong’s board of trustees has ultimate responsibility for compliance with the legal elements of the equality and diversity policy. It is however the responsibility of the peer managers to implement, monitor and evaluate the equality and diversity policy in terms of employment practice, volunteer co-ordination, service delivery and changes to legislation. They are also under a duty to ensure that the board of trustees is regularly kept informed of the policy's implementation and the implications of the board of trustees’ decisions and policies for equality and diversity issues.

2.2. It is the responsibility of all staff to report any discrimination of which they become aware.  
 
2.3. All employees and board of trustees members will be informed that an equality and diversity policy is in operation and that they are bound to comply with its requirements. The policy will also be drawn to the attention of Oblong’s members, funding agencies, job applicants and volunteers at Oblong.
 
2.4. The ‘Equality and Diversity Statement’ above shall be easily available in our offices, accessible to staff and visitors. Staff and trustees are to be made aware of the whole policy upon appointment/election and whenever the policy is modified. They will be directed to view the electronic copy on a shared drive accessible to them.
 
2.5. Oblong’s Grievance Policy and/or Disciplinary Policy will be used to deal with any complaints about discrimination, harassment or bullying involving staff. For any similar complaints involving volunteers, the Acceptable Behaviour Policy will be used.
 
2.6. Complaints from people using the organisation’s services will be dealt with through Oblong’s Complaints Procedure.
 
2.7. Oblong seeks a broad and representative board of trustees.
 
2.8. It is expected that when staff or trustees represent Oblong on the committees of other agencies they will endeavour to ensure that principles and practices to support equality and appreciation of diversity are adopted by those agencies.

 

3. Employment practices

3.1. Oblong aims to promote equality and diversity as an employer and to ensure that no job applicant or employee receives less favourable treatment or is disadvantaged by conditions or requirements that cannot be shown to be justifiable within the context of the policy.
 
3.2. Oblong regards discrimination, harassment, abuse, victimisation or bullying of staff, volunteers, centre users or of others in the course of work as disciplinary offences that could be regarded as gross misconduct. Condoning such behaviour could also be treated as a disciplinary offence. As well as disciplining the perpetrator(s), we will give appropriate support to people who complain of harassment of themselves or others.
 
3.3. Selection, recruitment, training, promotion and employment practices generally will be subject to regular review to ensure that they comply with the equality and diversity policy. In particular, selection and recruitment procedures should be reviewed every two years in order to try and constantly improve equality and diversity practices.
 
3.4. Oblong will attempt to accommodate staff requests to work flexibly, whether part-time or some other working arrangement, for whatever reason, so long as agreement is consistent with the needs of the organisation (see Flexible Working Policy).
 
3.5. We recognise that organisations are obliged under the Equality Act 2010 to make reasonable adjustments to accommodate disabled people and to enable them to do their job without unnecessary difficulty. We will make adjustments which are reasonable, for both staff and volunteers.
 
3.6. We accept our obligation not to discriminate against applicants and employees on the basis of their religion or belief. We will try to accommodate employees’ religious beliefs in any way which is compatible with the work of the organisation by, for example, allowing for prayers during the working day and at the workplace; considering employees’ dietary requirements in providing facilities for staff to eat and store food; allowing staff to take their holidays for religious festivals; trying to arrange job interviews or other important work meetings at times when they do not clash with important religious festivals; and not imposing a dress code with which people of a particular religion cannot comply.
 
3.7. Oblong will not discriminate on grounds of age in recruitment, promotion, training, or in the availability of benefits such as pension contributions or health insurance.
 
3.8. Oblong will take whatever positive action is required where it can be shown that under-representation of any particular group has occurred in recruitment. Where appropriate and where legally permissible, employees from under-represented groups will be given training and encouragement in order to promote equality and diversity within Oblong.

 

4. Service delivery

4.1. Oblong will seek to ensure that its activities and services are accessible to all sections of the community served by Oblong.  In particular Oblong will seek to remove barriers which may prevent those most at social, economic or educational disadvantage accessing our activities.  We will also ensure that annual impact assessment in our local community drives our strategic priorities.
 
4.2. Oblong will make public its commitment to combating discriminatory attitudes where these are encountered.
 
4.3. Oblong will attempt to ensure that none of its policies discriminate directly or indirectly against any group or individual.
 
4.4. Oblong will operate a Complaints Procedure that will include its objectives with regard to equality and diversity in service delivery.
 
4.5. Oblong will attempt to find ways of making our activities and services accessible to everyone, including people for whom English is not a first language, people with visual or hearing impairments, and people who live in remote rural areas and/or who cannot easily travel.

4.6. Oblong will take all reasonable steps to ensure that all its activities are carried out in premises which are accessible to people with mobility difficulties. In the event that the premises operated by Oblong are not accessible for particular individuals, Oblong will arrange alternative meeting places. This will include committee meetings.
 
4.7. Oblong will be sensitive to the particular needs of participants by trying wherever possible to provide, for example, translations, childcare facilities run by vetted carers and, when providing food, having regard to religious and other dietary requirements.        
 
4.8. Oblong will operate a variety of means to allow people to contact staff.

 

5. Monitoring and evaluation

5.1. Oblong will regularly evaluate its services and the effectiveness of its equality and diversity policy by a variety of means.
 
5.2. Monitoring may be carried out by Oblong to provide the data for this regular evaluation. For instance, Oblong may ask clients using our services, job applicants, volunteers and trustees for information about their ethnic origin, disability, age or other personal information. We will only do this for a specific defined purpose such as collecting statistical data for funders, for research or for our own monitoring to evaluate this policy’s impact.
 
5.3. Oblong will be sensitive to groups and individuals and will have due regard for the principles of data protection when seeking information. Where sensitive information is gathered, those responding will be explicitly informed of the purpose and that they are at liberty to withhold the information. All monitoring information will be securely stored, aggregated and anonymised.

 

6. Review of this policy

6.1. Oblong’s commitment to equality and diversity is an active one. This document will be amended on a regular basis as part of this active commitment.
 
6.2. Oblong's equality and diversity policy will be reviewed as and when required and in line with changes in legislation.
 
6.3. Oblong will also seek to keep abreast of new developments in practice to support equality and diversity and actively seek information on these topics.

 

7. Appendix
Harassment and dignity at work

7.1. Oblong’s objectives will be best served if staff work in harmony with each other.  Each member of staff should respect other members of staff and realise that behaviour that they may find acceptable may not be so regarded by others.
 
7.2. Peer managers shall act and react towards each other in a manner which respects their dignity. They shall work to ensure that volunteers they work with are guided to act in a similar way in their relationships with each other.
 
7.3. Harassment at work in any form is entirely unacceptable and each member of staff carries responsibility for their own behaviour under the policy.
 
7.4. Harassment
The Equality Act 2010 defines harassment as unwanted conduct which has the purpose or effect of violating a person’s dignity, or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for that person.

7.5. Harassment because of sex, age, disability, gender reassignment, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation, marriage and civil partnership, maternity and pregnancy is prohibited by the Equality Act. Harassment at work in any form is entirely unacceptable to Oblong, whether or not it is because of a characteristic protected by law.
 
7.6. It is unlawful to harass someone or discriminate against them on the grounds of a characteristic they are perceived to have and it does not matter whether they actually possess that characteristic.
 
7.7. The law also protects someone who is associated with another person who has a protected characteristic, for instance because of their partner’s race or because their parent is disabled.
 
7.8. Harassment may be persistent or an isolated incident. Actions or comments which are demeaning or unacceptable to the recipient can amount to harassment, regardless of the intention of the perpetrator. In extreme or repeated situations, harassment may amount to bullying or abuse.
 
7.9. Examples of unacceptable behaviour include:
 
7.9.1. spreading malicious rumours, or insulting someone (particularly on grounds of any of the protected characteristics)

7.9.2. copying memos that are critical about someone to others who do not need to know

7.9.3. ridiculing or demeaning someone

7.9.4. picking on someone or setting them up to fail

7.9.5. exclusion or victimisation

7.9.6. unfair treatment

7.9.7. overbearing micromanagement outside of usual peer management processes

7.9.8. misuse of power to undermine decisions or an individual’s work agreed upon through the collective model

7.9.9. unwelcome sexual advances – touching, standing too close, display of offensive materials

7.9.10. making threats or comments about job security without foundation

7.9.11. deliberately undermining a competent worker by overloading and/or constant criticism

7.9.12. preventing individuals progressing by intentionally blocking their learning and development opportunities
 
7.10. Bullying and harassment are not necessarily face to face, they may be by written communications, visual images (for example pictures of a sexual nature or embarrassing photographs of colleagues), email, phone, and automatic supervision methods – such as computer recording of downtime from work, or recording of telephone conversations – if these are not universally applied to all workers.
 
7.11. Note: The definitions of harassment and bullying are adapted from the ACAS guide Bullying and Harassment at Work, Oct 2010, see www.acas.org.uk 
 
7.12. Oblong will provide support for employees who allege harassment and those against whom harassment has been alleged.
 
7.13.Oblong will take appropriate action to protect employees from harassment by third parties during the course of employment. This may include harassment by Oblong's clients, members of the public and employees of other organisations. It is important that such incidents are reported by employees to the staff team.
 
7.14. Fair procedures will be followed and instigated promptly to minimise potential stress both for the alleged harasser and the complainant. Where possible and appropriate, complaints should be resolved informally.  (See applicable policies for details of these procedures - i.e. Disciplinary and Grievance Policies for staff and Acceptable Behaviour Policy for volunteers.)
 
7.15. Victimisation
Employees will not be victimised in any way for complaining about discrimination or racial, sexual or other forms of harassment or for giving evidence about such a complaint.
 
7.16. False allegation
Staff should not be subjected to unwarranted or vexatious complaints. Where it is found that an employee is using this procedure to make deliberately false allegations, or as a form of bullying against a colleague or manager, this may be treated as misconduct, and in serious cases may justify dismissal.

 

8. Relevant Legislation

  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • The Equality Act 2010

 

9. Related policies

  •  

Ethical and Environmental Policy

Expenses and Benefits Policy

1. Aims

1.1. It is the policy of Oblong that individuals are reimbursed the actual cost of expenses incurred wholly, exclusively and necessarily in the performance of the duties of their employment or work for Oblong. Any non-employees (including authorised students, volunteers etc.) entitled to claim expenses are bound by the same consideration in respect of performance of their responsibilities to Oblong.

1.2. To conform to HMRC rules it is important that only actual costs are covered - round-sum payments which are not specifically attributable to actual costs are not allowed, except where otherwise explicitly stated in this policy or the Oblong Staff Handbook.

1.3. Where possible, allowable payments should normally be paid directly by Oblong to third parties, rather than borne as an out of pocket expense by individual staff. Where it is not reasonably possible for such payments to be made directly by Oblong, however, individuals are permitted to make payment themselves and, subject to the rules below, submit a claim for reimbursement. 

1.4. In all cases claimants are expected both to minimise costs without impairing the efficiency of Oblong and to avoid any unnecessary cost to Oblong Payments or claims which, in the opinion of the staff team do not represent value for money may be rejected.

 

2. General Claims Procedure

2.0.1. Expenses incurred by individuals on behalf of Oblong must be recorded in detail on an Expenses Claim Form.

2.0.2. All claims should be supported by receipts.

2.0.3. Completed Expense Claim Forms must be authorised in accordance with these rules and submitted to the Finance Worker.

2.1. Receipts

2.1.1. Claimants are advised to request detailed receipts as proof of purchase and to attach these receipts in support of any claim made, e.g. where a personal credit card has been used to make a purchase on behalf of Oblong, the supplier's detailed receipt should be attached to the claim in addition to the credit card receipt. This is because credit card receipts themselves provide only the total paid and the name of the supplier - usually there is no indication of what was purchased. It should be noted that this is a point of good practice rather than mandatory - irrespective of whether or not detailed receipts are provided, the staff team must always be satisfied of the veracity of the claim before authorisation.

2.1.2. Additionally, extra consideration should always be given to claims charged to projects and the requirements of funders in respect of supporting documents for any expense. 

2.1.3.Where, in exceptional circumstances, receipts or other supporting documents cannot be obtained or provided, and then the claim may still be submitted provided that the authorised signatory is prepared to support the claim, sign it and add a note of explanation. Where original receipts or invoices are unavailable, any additional supporting documentation should be attached to the claim.

2.1.4. Claims submitted in this fashion will be paid at the discretion of the staff team, taking into consideration the explanation, any supporting documentation provided, and any funding requirements or other rules which may require full documentary evidence of all expenditure incurred.

 

2.2. Submission of Claims

2.2.1. Generally claims should be made within two weeks of the expense being incurred.

2.2.2. It is a facet of good financial control that claims are submitted as close as possible to the time that the original expense was incurred. In cases of doubt, or where further information might be required, it is easier to verify claims the closer they are submitted to the date of original expenditure. 

2.2.3. Claims for expenses that are over two weeks old will still be honoured provided the following conditions are met: 

2.2.3.1. Funding is still available for the claim (particularly in respect of claims made against projects or other limited funding sources); 

2.2.3.2. Staff will be notified of deadlines for claiming with respect to project funding 

2.2.3.3. Original receipts or supporting documentation can be provided which show that the claim has not already been paid. 

2.2.4. Claims which are over 12 months old will not be paid (where project funding has ceased) unless there are exceptional circumstances to explain the delay. Claims which exceed 12 months must be referred in the first instance to the staff team, together with a full explanation of the reasons for the delay.

2.2.5. Lack of organisation in submission of a timely claim on the part of a claimant or their department will not be accepted as a valid reason for late submission. In cases of dispute the Board of Trustees will make the final decision whether a claim will be reimbursed or not.

 

3. Authorisation of Expense Claims

3.1. General points concerning authorisation

3.1.1. Expense claims must be authorised by the staff team. Under no circumstances will self-authorised claims be paid. Claims must not be authorised by an employee who is a close relative of the claimant. In both cases alternative authorisation must be obtained. 

3.1.2. Claims, once authorised, will not be returned to the claimant prior to payment.

3.1.3. Any attempt to submit a false claim will be treated as a serious disciplinary offence.

 

3.2. The meaning of authorisation

3.2.1 Expense Claim forms must be properly completed and scrutinised prior to submission for payment. In signing an Expense Claim Form or other documentation in support of a claim, all signatories involved are verifying that: 

3.2.1.1. the claim or payment is in respect of bona fide work expense incurred on behalf of Oblong 

3.2.1.2. the claim is mathematically correct and supported by receipts or other documentation as required by Oblong Expenses and Benefits policy 

3.2.1.3. the specific items to which the claim or payment relates have not been previously reimbursed or paid for by Oblong or by another third party 

3.2.1.4. the specific items to which the claim or payment relates are not subject to a duplicate claim or payment currently in progress with Oblong or another third party 

3.2.1.5. that, specifically in the case of project codes specified, the expense does not contravene any funding rules imposed by funders that exist in addition to Oblong rules

3.2.2. In addition to these considerations, the authorising signatory is also confirming: 

3.2.2.1. that the general ledger or project code(s) specified to bear the cost are valid and contain sufficient budget to fund the expense 

3.2.2.1. that, if so called upon, the expense can be justified in terms of value for money

 

4. Petty Cash

4.1. Petty Cash is to be used to reimburse small items of actual expenditure such as delivery fees, postal charges, travel etc. 

4.2. The maximum amount which may be claimed in respect of any single transaction through the petty cash system is £20.

4.3. Any item claimed through Petty Cash must be fully described and a receipt attached.

 

5. Oblong Credit Cards

5.1. See Oblong Credit Card Policy and Procedures.

 

6. Use of personal Credit/Debit Cards

6.1. Subject to the general principles detailed in above, it may occasionally be necessary for staff to use their personal credit/debit card to make a purchase or cover an expense that is subsequently reclaimed. Where alternatives (e.g. direct purchase by Oblong, use of Oblong credit or Purchasing Card, etc.) are not available then this is permissible. The general claims procedure detailed as above applies.

6.2. Only charges relating to the purchase of goods or services may be reclaimed. Penalty charges, interest or late fees, however incurred, will not be reimbursed. 

6.3. Expenses incurred on personal credit cards must be reclaimed through the use of the Expense Claim Form - reimbursement using petty cash is strictly prohibited.

 

7. Relevant Legislation

  •  

 

8. Related Policies

  •  

 

Ratified 5/10/2010 by Trustees

Finance Strategy 2014-17

0.1. The finance strategy aims to address how our predicted income will be efficiently and effectively translated into impact we want, in line with our strategic plan and organisational values.

0.2. It will be broken down into four key areas

  • 1. Mission and strategy
  • 2. Financial picture expressed as cashflow and balance sheet figures
  • 3. An understanding how Oblong intends to get from the current position to 2017
  • 4. Procedural changes

 

1. Mission and Strategy

1.1 Our Aims and Objectives

1.1.1. The grants and contracts we apply for and the unrestricted money we receive (and have in reserve) is spent on furthering these objects:­

1.1.1.1. to develop the capacity and skills of people living in socially and economically disadvantaged areas in such a way that they are better able to identify, and help meet, their needs and to create active, flourishing communities; and

1.1.1.2. to run a community centre, primarily for the benefit of the Woodhouse, Little London, and Hyde Park areas.

 

1.2 Our Values

1.2.1. How we do this is guided by our values:
Empowerment ­ people feeling able to change their community for the better
Collectivism ­ making decisions together as equals
Sustainability ­ caring for the future of the community and the environment
Community led (directed by people) ­ focusing on people’s ideas and needs
Equality ­ ensuring that every individual has an equal opportunity to make the most of their lives and talents
Respect and care ­ how we relate to each other and the people we work with

1.2.2. More background detail can be found within the Strategic plan 2014­16 document including a breakdown of the analysis from the first Impact assessment 2013.

 

2. Financial Picture

2.0.1. Oblong will focus on the impact made and who will be accountable to achieve it.

2.0.2. A clear financial framework within Oblong ensures we have the desired impact today while also remaining financially viable to have impact tomorrow.

2.0.2.1. Income  growth in contributions, grants, rentals

2.0.2.2. Funds ­ reserve levels

2.0.2.3. Assets ­ liquidity of assets

2.0.2.4. Expenditure ­ the percentage of total costs on activities in furthering the organisational objectives

2.0.3. If these metrics move in the right direction, Oblong would enjoy increasing expenditure on activities in furtherance of its objectives, financed by growing income and underpinned by an appropriate level of reserves held in a suitably liquid form.

 

2.1. Resource

2.1.1. In order for Oblong to maintain itself as a going concern, there is no choice but to commit precious resources to generate reserves in order to:­

2.1.1.1. maintain financial stability

2.1.1.2. invest in income generating activities

2.1.1.3. manage and administer efficiently

2.1.2. The art is to maximise cost­effectiveness. Keeping these allocations as low as possible without sacrificing effectiveness in order to commit as much as possible for activities that further Oblongs objectives.

 

2.2 Reserves

2.2.1. Oblong can't expect to have long­term impact unless it runs on a sound financial footing. So, in the competing demands for the organisations available funds, the issue of reserves must come first.
However this does not mean prioritising reserves at the total expense of other competing demands. If the current reserves are substantially less than the level required, as identified in the finance strategy, then we will need to build up the reserves over a period of time. This may also include taking a medium term view on investing in income generating activities.

2.2.2. The Locality assessment (2014) conducted into our contract readiness highlighted the overall low liquidity level of readily available funds as the only substantial factor in successfully bidding for contracts. Aligned with the fact that we have a large outstanding long term debt bigger than our annual turnover then we are vulnerable without a suitable level of reserves.

2.2.3. The current reserves target is to aim for between 3 and 6 months income level in reserves. This will vary depending on the level of risk associated with securing further income within the different streams. At the start of this period we have 1.8 months running costs and we aim to increase this to over 2.5 months running costs. This does not represent a significant increase in terms of reserves but is against a background of expanding services and negotiating from one funding cycle to another. In cash terms it is an increase of over 35% in cash reserves.

 

2.3 Income Mix

2.3.1. If we want to increase the funds available for activities that further our objects, then we must make the income generating activities more profitable and try to reduce our management and administration costs. The Locality exercise also showed that Oblong came significantly lower than most local peers in terms of ratio of staffing costs to overall income (43% vs an average of 65%). A focus on efficiency of managing and administering the charity to ensure minimal waste (and maximum spent on furthering the objects) should not act as a drag on overall growth.

2.3.2. Any investment should be in high performing activities that address strategic priorities. Financing other activities should therefore be questioned.

2.3.3. In developing this strategy it is the opinion of the staff that grant income levels will remain flat at best. The focus over this period to increase the income mix diversity will be by:­

2.3.3.1. growing and maintaining the rental income

2.3.3.2. investing time in securing contractual work (by becoming ‘contract ready’)

2.3.3.3. investing in developing an ‘Oblong Training’ programme

2.3.4. This is estimated to reduce our grant income to ~50% of overall income which will increase overall resilience and ensure we are agile enough to focus our activity in what furthers our objectives best.

 

2.5. Cashflow and Balance sheet projections

The cashflow and balance sheet projections are found in separate documents along with the Cashflow 14­17 notes detailing the changes in income and expense lines over the period.

 

3. How do we know Oblong is on track?

3.0.1. The Strategic goals and milestones can be found in the Strategic plan. We can monitor and observe if this is on track by seeing if the Financial indicators from this Financial strategy are

being reached. The indicators can help provide a suitable critical eye over the key areas of performance allied with the management accounts (key financial metrics) to ensure the direction of travel is being

maintained and the focus on what impact the income is having is being achieved.

 

3.1 Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

3.1.1. Carefully thought through KPIs can help report much more detail and context quicker and in a much more meaningful way to a wider group of people than just numbers and spreadsheets.

3.1.2. Picking out key milestones from the strategic and financial strategy to help indicate progress can help minimise the ‘target hitting’ culture and move the focus further up the results chain to what impact is being made while still ensuring that key metrics (liquidity, reserves etc) are maintained.

3.1.3. Financial indicators used to assess progress will be monitored monthly to begin with. The four key areas to monitor will be:­

3.1.3.1. Income ­ An income indicator graph showing the overall level of income and mix of income year to date against a budget.

3.1.3.2. Funds ­ The number of months running costs year to date held in reserves. A months running cost will be calculated by dividing the overall budgeted level of expense for the year by 12. The target for the 2014 ­17 timetable is to increase this from the March 2014 level of 1.66 to 2.5 months running costs by March 2017.

3.1.3.3. Assets ­ For the asset productivity we will look at the ratio of the main fixed asset (the building) minus the associated long term debt (loan) to the rental income year to date. Based on the cashflow projections we expect by 2017 the rental income levels to be £71,390 against a fixed asset value of ~£180,000 (after deducting £200,000 loan still outstanding). This is a ratio of 2.5:1

3.1.3.4. Expenditure ­ To assess overall cost effectiveness we will monitor % of staff costs to the overall cost base year to date. The January 2014 Leeds Locality report benchmarked the consortia members and found an average of 65.2% we will aim to keep this between 48% and 58% to ensure firstly that lack of investment is not limiting growth but also ensure that the largest single expense (staff costs) does not increase ahead of profitability either.

 

4. Procedural Changes

4.0.1. Ownership and particularly the devolved ownership the staff and volunteers have over the strategic goals and the financial measures indicating achievement is key to success.

4.0.2. In order to be effective in achieving the targets a changes in procedure will be needed. I have taken comments throughout the strategic planning as well as ongoing discussions with colleagues and feel some of the measures detailed below will benefit Oblong in this respect.

4.0.3. This will require the finance role to move from administering to more financial stewardship.

4.0.4. I feel we have a strong financial grounding at Oblong. We have sufficient oversight between the structures in place and the reporting function to the board and Petes input as Treasurer. I think in order to embed a stronger culture of decision making and goal focus we need a cultural shift away from a centralised finance decision making function to wider accountability for inputs (spending) but more importantly outcomes for strategic goals. I think this is achievable without losing any broader oversight or control.

 

4.1 Financial Reporting

4.1.0. I would like to expand on the good work achieved in board/SIB reports produced over the last period and push some of the information gathering and sharing (and analysis) further out to the decision makers

4.1.0.1. Trustees ­ Similar report of cashflow and balance sheet by month as a summary (in place currently)

4.1.0.2. Staff ­ Report by project by each expense line (in place currently)

4.1.0.3. Collectives ­ Report by collective by each expense line (when suitable)

 

4.2 Change in Emphasis

4.2.1. More context

4.2.2. Less centralised micromanagement of budget lines

4.2.3. Link spending (input) to outcomes and ultimately impact better

4.2.4. Higher level of accountability

4.2.5. Better tracking

4.2.6. Clear budgetary responsibilities (income and expense) for staff and/or collectives

4.2.7. Unrestricted expenditure more sensitive and dynamic (scale up/down) to fluctuations in income

4.2.8. More agile and outcome focussed

4.2.9. More data driven

 

4.3 Practical Measures

4.3.1 Directors Finance Reports

4.3.1.1. Faster release of management accounts

4.3.1.2. Review past performance and future budget over rolling period

4.3.1.3. Report on last quarter, Year to date, previous year

4.3.1.4. Introduce Key Performance Indicators (KPIs)

Aim is more candid dialogue about performance and outlook focused on impact not budget lines

 

4.3.2 Staff Finance Reports

4.3.2.1. Quickbooks Online real time reporting

4.3.2.2. Increase access for budget holders to data

4.3.2.3. Increased responsibility/accountability for spending

4.3.2.4. Link spending to outcomes better

4.3.2.5. Multi year restricted projects to include balances brought forward

4.3.2.6. Translate strategy into KPIs for monitoring

Aim is for more devolved data to improve decision making

 

4.3.3 Collective Finance Reports

4.3.3.1. Clarity of remit needs to be agreed first

4.3.3.2. Work plans based on Strategic goals. Ownership of input (expense or activity) to achieve the goals

4.3.3.3. Reporting to wider group on achievements against goals. Requires transparency to ensure accountability

4.3.3.4. Need to agree who the collective is responsible and accountable to (staff, board, bobalong?)

4.3.3.5. Operationally critical goals need staff to lead on 

Financial Controls Policy

1. Background
Oblong has adopted the following financial controls to be followed by staff and
Board members in managing and monitoring the finances of the organisation.
The controls are designed to meet the guidance published by the charity
commission.
Whilst some powers may be delegated to sub-groups and staff, Trustees have
overall responsibility for financial controls, and where necessary training will be
provided for members not clear about Trustees responsibilities.

 

2. Structure
The Structure of decision-making and tasks is as follows:

2.1. Board of Trustees

• Policy Setting and Review
• Agreeing Core budget and monitoring income and expenditure against
Core budget on a quarterly basis
• Monitoring of income and expenditure against all restricted funds –
presented by Finance worker at board meetings.
• Recommend choice of auditor at the AGM

2.2. Treasurer

• Checking assets and documentation, monitoring accounts against bank
statements, authorising payments, spot checks of records and petty cash.

2.3. Finance worker

• Management of all budgets. Execution of policy with authority to spend
within budget headings, authorise payments ensuring adherence to policy.
• Management of day to day systems, keeping accounts, handling petty
cash, preparing invoices, signing cheques, paying invoices, process
payroll, monitoring of budgets.
• Preparing quarterly reports for Board of Trustees

2.4. Statutory Requirements

• Proper accounts and records to be kept of all transactions.
• Accounts will be checked annually in line with current legislation to comply
with Companies house and the Charity Commission
• Accounts to be formally approved by the Board of Trustees at the Annual
General Meeting (AGM).
• Trustees will be provided with a set of accounts when appointed and
further accounts will be provided before the AGM.

 

3. Appropriate Experience and Qualifications

The Board of Trustees will ensure that there is sufficient expertise amongst Staff
and Trustees, supported wherever necessary by that of the Auditor, to provide
adequate knowledge of financial controls within the organisation.

 

4. Budgets

The Board will adopt overall budgets for Core income and expenditure annually. Project budgets will be set by the development collective during fundraising. The budgets will be set within any restrictions placed by the Funders.

Expenditure against the Core budget will be reported, at the end of each quarter, to the Board of Trustees by the Finance worker. Changes to budgets of Restricted funding will be subject to negotiation with, and agreement of, the Funder.

Oblongs Annual Report and Annual Accounts shall be subject to formal approval by the Board of Trustees before they are submitted to the membership at the AGM.

 

5. Incoming Funds
Oblong will not normally receive income in cash through the post. Cash received
for photocopying, room bookings etc is receipted and accounted for.
The security of cash income to any of the Projects will be the responsibility of
designated members of staff who will place monies/cheque in the safe and the
Finance Worker will account for and bank within 10 working days of its receipt.
Incoming cheques will be recorded by the Finance Worker. Cheques will always
be paid into the bank as soon as possible and certainly within 10 working days.

 

6. Office Security
For safety of incoming mail, petty cash and equipment, all doors will be kept
locked when offices are unattended. The safe will be provided for cheques,
chequebooks and the petty cash tin.
Any cash received will be recorded through the till as income and a receipt given.
In the event that a large sum of cash is received, then two members of staff will
be involved in the banking and recording procedures.
Individuals’ bank accounts will not used to deposit funds.
A numbered invoicing system will be used to record all monies coming into the
Centre, due to or paid out by the Centre. A record will be kept of petty cash
transactions, and withdrawals of petty cash by the Finance worker.

 

7. Checks of Income transactions
The Treasurer will make checks of the incoming cheques records, against bank
statements, and paying-in slips. Checks will be carried out quarterly.

 

8. Bank Details
Oblong will bank with Triodos under the account name of ‘Oblong ltd’.
No other account will be held at any other bank or financial institution unless
approved and minuted by the board of Trustees.
The bank will provide monthly bank statements which will be reconciled with the
computerised Quickbooks accounts. The Treasurer will spot-check that this
reconciliation has been done quarterly.

 

9. Restricted funds
All Restricted funds will be individually tracked and monitored by a class system,
to ensure all expenditure from each fund can be separated out, properly
accounted for and reported to the Funder.
The Auditor will be asked to identify all Restricted funds within the accounts.

 

10. Cheque Signing
No fewer than two approved signatories must sign all cheques. Current
signatories are
• Sue Johnson Trustee
• John Ward Trustee
• Chris Lightfoot Finance Worker
• Duncan Millard Development Worker (Volunteering)
• Mark Southwell Development Worker
Two staff members may not both sign cheques above a level to be approved
annually by the Board of Trustees. A limit of £1000 is agreed in first instance.
Copies of supporting documentation will be provided to signatories whenever
they are asked to sign cheques. In the case of cheques for petty cash the
person cashing the cheque will not sign to ensure at least three independent
people are involved in releasing the cash. Where two staff members (other than
the person receiving the cash) are not available, a Board member will be asked
to either sign the cheque (where practical) or authorise the person receiving the
cheque to sign it.

 

Furthermore;
• No signatory will sign a Cheque or authorise bacs payable to either
themselves or to a close relative or partner.
• Cheque stubs will be completed at the time of writing cheques
• Cheque no. and date will be written on invoices
• Blank cheques will not be signed under any circumstances.

 

11. BACS authorising
BACS payments will be set up and authorised by the Finance Worker and dual
authorised by another signatory unless it is payment to them personally or a
close relative or partner. Payments over £1000 will need to be authorised by a
Trustee signatory.

 

12. Controls over purchases
A System will be devised to monitor orders made by the Centre. This will include
the numbering of orders and allocating responsibility for checking the goods
received.
Payments should only be made against original invoices; these invoices will be
filed in the accounts to be audited.
Records of payments will be cross referenced with cheque number, and class
number.
Capital purchases will require three written quotes for items above £1500.

 

13. Salaries
Personnel records will be kept separate from salary records.
The BACS instruction signed for payment of salaries administered by Voluntary
Action Leeds Payroll Service will be accompanied by a list of employees for
which payment is made, to ensure there are no fictitious employees.
The Treasurer will inspect salary lists and payment files quarterly.

 

14. Expenses
The Expenses and benefits policy will detail the correct procedure in relation to
organisational expenditure

 

15. Fixed Assets
Records will be maintained of fixed assets. Capital purchases will be posted
against a Fixed Asset account. The value of Fixed Assets will be depreciated
under advice from the auditor for all items over £1,500. Assets will be reviewed
annually.
Insurance will be arranged for fixed assets where practical.

 

16. Risk Assessment
An annual financial health check will be conducted to examine liabilities in
relation to
• Property and leases
• Staff and redundancy costs
• Contract relationships
• Insurable risks (Public liability, employer’s liability property contents,
buildings and Directors liability)
• Fraud
Oblongs reserves policy will also be monitored annually to ensure the best return
on investment is being achieved. Please see separate Reserves policy.

 

Ratified 5/5/2010 by Trustees

Health & Safety Policy

Maternity, Paternity, Adoption, Parental, Caring and Compassionate Leave Policy

1. Aims

Oblong’s maternity/paternity/adoption policy will clearly set out:

  • What rights employees have in relation to maternity, paternity and adoption leave
  • Employees' rights to parental leave and compassionate leave to care for dependants
  • How they can exercise those rights

 

2. Who is it for?

The policy is for all full and part-time staff, regardless of their length of service. The policy will also be brought to the attention of those who will have to implement it to ensure the policy is understood throughout Oblong.

NB: Oblong will adhere to current statutory rights.  Should these rights change, the current statutory rights will supersede the terms in this policy at the time of application.

 

3. Maternity Leave

Length of leave: All employees, regardless of their length of service, are entitled to 39     weeks’ Ordinary Maternity Leave (OML), and Additional Maternity Leave (AML), which starts immediately after OML and continues for a further 13 weeks.  (See below for information on when this leave is paid.)

Notification requirements: Maternity leave cannot start more than 11 weeks before the Expected Week of Childbirth (EWC).  The employee must notify the employer of the intention to commence maternity leave by the end of the 15th week before the EWC.

Maternity pay: An employee who has been employed by Oblong continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC and earns above the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) is entitled to Statutory Maternity Pay (SMP).
This will be at the rate of 90 per cent of normal salary for the first six weeks, and at the statutory rate of SMP for the following 33 weeks.  (See www.hmrc.gov.uk for current LEL and SMP figures - as of April 2014 the LEL is £111 per week, and SMP is £136.78 per week, or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.)  Further leave will be unpaid.  
Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to unpaid OML and AML, as Oblong cannot recover SMP for these employees.

Contractual benefits for length of service:

less than 1 year’s service and/or not confirmed in post (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): statutory provision (as above - ‘Maternity Pay’).

confirmed in post and with between 1 and 2 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 6 weeks’ full pay for the first 6 weeks of maternity leave, thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with between 2 and 4 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 8 weeks’ full pay for the first 8 weeks of maternity leave; thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with 4 years’ service or more (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 10 weeks’ full pay for the first 10 weeks of maternity leave; thereafter statutory provision.

Holiday entitlement: Statutory holiday will accrue throughout both OML and AML. Additional contractual holiday entitlement on top of the statutory minimum will accrue throughout OML and AML.

Maternity leave trigger: Maternity Leave will be triggered if the employee is absent from work for a reason connected with the pregnancy after the start of the fourth week before the EWC.

Return to work: Oblong will notify the employee of the date of return, assuming they take the full entitled 52 weeks. If the employee wishes to return before that date, 28 days’ notice is required.  It is unlawful for a woman to return to work within 2 weeks of giving birth.

Antenatal Appointments: The employee may take reasonable paid time off work for antenatal maternity care before OML commences.

Transfer of maternity leave:  See Additional Paternity Leave.  

 

4. Paternity Leave

Length of leave: Up to 6 weeks’ paternity leave, depending on length of service (see below) is available for the father-to-be, or partner of the mother-to-be, or partner of an adoptive parent who will be taking Maternity / Adoption Leave to care for a baby or adopted child.
Paternity leave must be taken in blocks of one week, consecutively.

Notification & signed declaration:  The employee must notify Oblong of the intention to take Paternity Leave before the 15th week before EWC and at least 28 days before s/he intends to take the leave.  

The notification should include:

the EWC

how many weeks’ leave will be taken; and

the leave start date (see ‘Start of leave’ below).  

Employees must provide a signed declaration stating that the employee:

is taking time off to care for the child or to support the mother/adoptive parent or both

has or expects to have responsibility for the upbringing of the child; and

is the father of the child and / or the partner of the mother or adoptive parent.

Paternity Pay:  An employee who has been employed by Oblong continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC and earns above the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) is entitled to Statutory Paternity Pay (SPP).  
Paternity leave is paid at the current fixed rate for Statutory Paternity Pay (as for SMP - see ‘Maternity Pay’ above) or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.  

Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to leave as above but without pay, as Oblong cannot recover SPP for these employees.

Contractual benefit for length of service:

less than 1 year’s service and/or not confirmed in post (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): statutory provision (as above - ‘Paternity Pay’).

confirmed in post and with between 1 and 2 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 2 weeks’ paid leave and up to 4 weeks’ unpaid leave

confirmed in post and with between 2 and 4 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 3 weeks’ paid leave and up to 3 weeks’ unpaid leave

confirmed in post and with 4 years’ service or more (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): 4 weeks’ paid leave and up to 2 weeks’ unpaid leave

Start of leave: Employees can start their leave on the day of the baby’s birth or on a later date as notified to Oblong - either a specified number of days after the birth, or a chosen date after the first day of the EWC.  
Paternity leave must be taken within 56 days of the actual birth of the child, or the first day of the EWC, whichever is later.

Antenatal Appointments: An Oblong employee may take reasonable paid time off work to accompany their partner to antenatal appointments before their Paternity Leave commences.

 

5. Additional Paternity Leave

Length of leave:  If an employee’s partner returns to work before the end of his/her Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave, the employees may request 2-26 weeks’ Additional Paternity Leave (APL).  
Leave and or pay can only start 20 weeks after the birth, adoption or child’s arrival in the UK (overseas adoptions). Leave stops on the child’s first birthday or 52 weeks after the child starts living with the adoptive parent.

Notification and certification requirements:

The employee must give Oblong 8 weeks’ written notice of the intention to take Additional Paternity Leave using the appropriate form (SC7, SC8, SC9 or SC10, available here: https://www.gov.uk/employers-additional-paternity-pay-leave).  

The employee’s partner must also sign the same form confirming his/her Maternity or Adoption Leave has ended.  

Additionally, the employee must provide proof of the birth or adoption and the contact details of his/her partner’s employer so that Oblong can verify the end date of the partner’s Maternity Pay.  

Pay: An employee who has been employed by Oblong continuously for at least 26 weeks by the 15th week before the EWC and earns above the Lower Earnings Limit (LEL) is entitled to Additional Paternity Pay (APP).
This will be at the statutory rate of APP.  (See www.hmrc.gov.uk for current LEL and SMP figures - as of April 2014 the LEL is £111 per week, and SMP is £136.78 per week, or 90% of average weekly earnings, whichever is lower.)  
To receive APP, the employee’s partner must have at least 2 weeks’ left of Maternity or Adoption Pay.  
All Additional Paternity Leave taken after the end of the Statutory Maternity Pay, Maternity Allowance or Statutory Adoption Pay period is unpaid.
Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to unpaid APP, as Oblong cannot recover SMP for these employees. 

Contractual benefits for length of service:
Any employee who has already taken Paternity Leave is not eligible for these additional benefits for length of service.  These benefits will apply to an employee who has not taken Paternity Leave, but is taking Additional Paternity Leave.  An employee who has taken Paternity Leave may take Additional Paternity Leave but this will be paid at the qualifying statutory rate.

less than 1 year’s service and/or not confirmed in post (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC): statutory provision (as above - ‘Additional Paternity Pay’).

confirmed in post and with between 1 and 2 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC) and eligible for APP: 2 weeks’ full pay for the first 2 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave, thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with between 2 and 4 years’ service (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC) and eligible for APP: 3 weeks’ full pay for the first 3 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave; thereafter statutory provision.

confirmed in post and with 4 years’ service or more (up to and including the 15th week before the EWC) and eligible for APP: 4 weeks’ full pay for the first 4 weeks of Additional Paternity Leave; thereafter statutory provision.

Holiday entitlement: Statutory holiday will accrue throughout APL. Additional contractual holiday entitlement on top of the statutory minimum will accrue throughout APL.

Return to work: Oblong will write to the employee within 28 days of receiving notice of the intention to take leave, confirming what APP the employee will receive and the leave start and end dates.

 

6. Adoption Leave (for primary carer)

Adoption leave:  An employee with 26 weeks continuous service before the end of the week before the adoption match was agreed will qualify for adoption leave.
The statutory entitlement is currently 39 weeks Ordinary Adoption Leave (OAL) paid and 13 weeks Additional Adoption Leave (AAL) unpaid.  
Where a couple adopt a child one can choose to take Adoption Leave and the other can choose to take Paternity Leave.  
Employees without the minimum length of service are entitled to unpaid OAL and AAL, as Oblong cannot recover Statutory Adoption Pay for these employees. 

Notice, pay, contractual benefits, holiday entitlement, return to work, and transfer of leave:  As per Maternity Leave - see above.  
EWC should be understood to mean expected week of placement in the case of adoption.  
Adoption Leave can start up to 14 days before the placement.

Pre-adoption appointments: An employee who is involved in an adoption process can take reasonable paid time off work to attend relevant meetings and training.

 

7. Parental and caring leave

Amount of leave

Employees may take up to 18 weeks’ parental leave total for each child, up to the child’s 5th birthday, or the 5th anniversary of the child’s adoption placement, or the adopted child’s 18th birthday - whichever is sooner.  

  • Parents of disabled children may take parental leave up to their child’s 18th birthday.
  • Employees with primary caring responsibilities for a dependant may take up to 18 weeks’ leave in total.  
  • Parental and caring leave may be taken in blocks of one half day or more.

Notice: Employees wishing to take parental or caring leave must give 21 days’ notice.  Where this is not possible, Oblong will endeavour to grant parental or caring leave at shorter notice where this is possible without compromising the needs of the organisation.

Purpose:  Parental or caring leave must be to care for a child or dependant.  This may include:

  • spending more time with the child or dependant in early years or during hospice care
  • accompanying a child or dependant in hospital 
  • researching educational or care establishments
  • settling a child or dependant into new childcare or care arrangements
  • enabling the family to spend more time together e.g. visiting relatives

Using parental leave for other purposes will be subject to disciplinary procedures.

Qualifying conditions: Employees taking parental leave must have parental responsibility for the child (or expect to, where this is being determined by a Family Court), or be named on the birth certificate, or have legally adopted the child.
Employees taking caring leave must have primary caring responsibility for the dependant.

 

8. Compassionate Leave

In cases of urgent domestic need, for example, the serious illness or death of a near relative or partner, compassionate leave of up to five working days may be granted with salary by the Peer Managers.

An extension may be granted in cases of special need. In circumstances of unforeseen sickness of a child or other dependent relative/partner, or where care arrangements have broken down, short periods of paid absence may be taken by agreement with the Peer Managers.

Peer Managers may refer to this government guidance regarding what constitutes an emergency: https://www.gov.uk/time-off-for-dependants/whats-an-emergency. 

Notification: Staff requiring compassionate leave should notify the Peer Managers at the earliest convenient opportunity.  (Refer also to the Absence Management Policy.)

Dependants: 

  • husband / wife / civil partner / long term partner
  • a child for whom the employee has parental responsibility or for whom they are the named guardian
  • parent
  • a person who lives in the same household as the employee, for example grandparents, aunts, uncles, siblings. This does not include tenants, lodgers, boarders or paid employees.
  • in the case of illness or injury, or where care arrangements break down, a dependant may also be someone who depends on the employee for care.

Qualification: There is no minimum service requirement for Compassionate Leave; it is available to all staff members.

 

9. Additional Information

Statutory holiday: An employee can take all their statutory holiday that will accrue during their Maternity / Paternity / Adoption / Additional Paternity Leave including if this straddles two holiday years.

Flexible working: Employees have the right to request flexible working hours when their children are under six years old (or when their disabled children are under 18), or if they have long-term caring responsibilities for another dependent. Oblong is happy to consider a flexible approach to working hours however all requests will be dealt with on a case by case basis to ensure the needs of Oblong are also met.

Pay: SMP (and therefore paternity and adoption pay) may change in April of each year in line with government legislation.

Keeping in touch days: Oblong will agree for you to work up to 10 days to keep in touch with you during your Maternity Leave or Adoption Leave.
These days will be worked only if both parties agree and will not affect SMP.

 

10. Key Legislation

  • Work and Families Act 2006
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Social Security Contributions and Benefits Act 1992
  • Maternity and Parental Leave etc Regulations 1999
  • Employment Act 2002
  • Maternity and Parental Leave (Amendment) Regulations 2002
  • Paternity and Adoption Leave Regulations 2002
  • Flexible Working (Procedural Requirements) Regulations 2002
  • Children and Families Bill 2013

 

11. Related Policies

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Amended 14/09/2006 by Chris Lightfoot under advice from PERS​
Amended 07/03/2007 change of Maternity and Adoption employment rights 2007
Amended 15/05/07 by Chris Lightfoot and Mark Southwell
​Amended 04/03/14 by Policy Review Group
Ratified 15/04/14 by Trustees
 

Recruitment & Selection Policy

0.1 Basic Principles

0.1.0. The aims of this policy are to:

0.1.1. enable the selection of the best available candidate(s)

0.1.2. ensure job selection is carried out within Oblongs equality and diversity policy and is based on fair, objective tests related only to a person’s ability and suitability to perform the job in question

0.1.3. ensure that the process of advertising is open, inclusive and appropriate

0.1.4. ensure that selection procedures are fair and transparent, while preserving confidentiality about any individuals personal information

0.1.5. ensure that no-one is appointed to do a job for which they are, for whatever reason, not capable or suitable

0.1.6. enable existing staff to progress and prosper within the organisation insofar as this is compatible with the previous aims

0.1.7. ensure clarity about the nature of any vacant post and its terms and conditions, in order to avoid misunderstandings and dissatisfaction at a later date

0.1.8. ensure that potential and actual applicants are treated with courtesy and respect, as a new job usually involves considerable effort, significance and risk in people’s lives

0.2. It is not the purpose of this policy to provide a detailed guide to a complete selection process. This will differ for each job. It sets out the principles on which the process should be based.

 

1. Permanent posts

1.1. Wherever possible, posts will be offered on a permanent basis subject to funding continuing to be available. Where a post is funded for a particular duration this will be made clear in the advertisement.

 

1.1 Allocation of responsibilities

1.1.1. The Trustee Board

The Trustee Board will agree that any new post is financially viable and that an appointment process should be instigated. They hold ultimate responsibility for the terms on which posts are offered and for ensuring that this policy is adhered to.

 

1.1.2. The staff team

The staff team of Oblong Ltd will be responsible for recommending to the Trustee Board the timescale for the appointment; the draft job description, person specification and advertisement; and for servicing the selection panel, advertising the post and dealing with enquiries.

 

The staff team will be responsible for determining the finalised job description and person specification, any variable terms and conditions relating to the post and for appointing or confirming the selection panel.

 

Most of the administrative tasks associated with recruitment will be delegated to staff team. The staff team will also be responsible for ensuring that this policy is observed and that all necessary contractual formalities concerning a job offer are completed.

 

1.1.3. Selection panel

1.1.3.1. The selection panel will be responsible for:

  • overseeing the recruitment process

  • agreeing a shortlisting and interview process consistent with this policy

  • devising interview questions and tests and agreeing how these are to be marked/weighted if appropriate

  • carrying out the selection process in a manner consistent with equality and diversity principles

1.1.3.2. The panel will be responsible for making a job offer and monitoring references. Where possible, they will review the appointment process to see where it could be improved, in particular with regard to equality and diversity and where, when and how job advertisements are placed.

 

1.2. Job description/person specification

1.2.0.1. No selection process can be put in motion until the job description and person specification are agreed. These will as far as practicable be drawn up in consultation with all relevant members of staff, particularly those who will work in the same team. Unless the job in question is of short duration or is a very specific task (e.g. undertaking a survey or covering a short period of sickness), they must be agreed by staff team.

1.2.0.2. All decisions relating to the job description and the terms and conditions must be based on the needs and values of the organisation. They should be scrutinised in a range of forums in order to avoid anyone in the organisation acting out of possible self interest.

1.2.0.3. The job description and person specification will make it clear what the job involves, including information about, for instance, access, need to lift heavy equipment, need to drive, evening work.

1.2.0.4. Please see below for the process to be used in appointing to short-term/temporary/specific task posts, or where extra hours become available for an existing post.

 

1.2.1. Job descriptions

1.2.1.1. These should be reviewed at the time a bid for a new post is submitted and each time a job is advertised (or re-advertised).

1.2.1.2. The tasks involved and the skills/qualities required should be analysed and a job description drawn up on the basis of this analysis. Since job descriptions naturally change in time, both to reflect the changing directions of the organisation and to reflect the particular strengths and interests of a post holder, it is probable both that

1.2.1.2.1. initial job descriptions will be drawn up with a view to providing a basis from which the job can continue to develop and to ensure that Oblong continues to honor its responsibility towards its funders and

1.2.1.2.1. any earlier job descriptions will need to be amended.

 

1.2.2. Terms and conditions (T&Cs)

1.2.2.1. T&Cs of the job will also be agreed at this point, including the pay and hours and also, for instance, whether the job could be offered on a job sharing or homeworking basis (see below), whether it is temporary, fixed term or permanent, whether it is dependent on specific funding arrangements and whether or not it could be done on a self-employed contractual basis. Salary levels should where possible reflect the Oblong policy of equal rate of pay for all staff.

 

1.2.3. Person specifications

This should be drawn from the job description. They should list both essential and desirable qualifications/attributes. For equal opportunity reasons, it is important that the ‘essential’ requirements are genuinely essential. The selection panel will then be able to form a judgement as to

a) who appears to meet the basic requirements and who does not, and

b) who meets the requirements most convincingly and comprehensively.

 

1.3 Selection panel and recruitment timetable

As early as possible, the trustee board should appoint a selection panel, as appropriate to the post in question, who will be responsible for setting a timetable for the selection process. 

The trustee board may delegate the formation of a selection panel to the staff team.

 

1.3.1 Panel

The selection panel will normally comprise paid staff and trustee board members and would normally include some representation from volunteers where appropriate.

It could also include people with specialist knowledge from outside the organisation and/or people representing partner agencies.

The panel should be selected on the basis of relevant knowledge (including experience/training in personnel selection) and availability.

The panel should normally comprise no fewer than three people and no more than five and where possible should reflect the diverse composition of the organisation.

 

1.3.2 Timetable

A timetable including advertising, closing date, shortlisting, interviews and probable start dates will be drawn up by the selection panel. The selection panel will be responsible for the appointment process, but may delegate administrative tasks. They will report to the Trustee Board and staff team, either to confirm appointment or to discuss re-advertising.

 

1.4 Advertising

Permanent posts will be publicly advertised unless there is a compelling reason not to do so (e.g. where an existing temporary worker has been through an open selection process or where a post has been designed in accordance with the needs of a disabled person).

The exact places and methods of advertisement will depend on factors such as the number of hours, the locality of the post, the timescale of relevant publication dates, any relevant ‘trade’ or professional publications, and cost. However, the aim should be to advertise widely, taking particular care to reach potential applicants from disadvantaged and minority groups.current salary levels of existing staff in similar posts.

The response to advertisements, both enquiries and applications, should be evaluated to determine the most productive methods of advertising in the future.

Advertisements should clearly state:

  • the job title

  • location

  • hours

  • salary

  • where appropriate, the duration of funding

Where appropriate and affordable, advertisements should make it clear:

  • whether the salary is on a scale

  • if the job is part-time, the full-time and pro rata salary

(These details should always be made clear in supporting information sent to enquirers.) It should include details of how to get the information pack (address, phone number and email address) and give the closing date for applications. The advertisement and supporting documents should be distributed in a format which can be used with web accessibility software (e.g. screen reader).

The selection panel may also wish to include other milestones of the selection timetable such as when applicants can expect a decision, or when interviews will be held.

Copies of all recruitment advertisements should be circulated internally. Internal applicants will be able to apply on the same basis as any other candidates (but see below for temporary posts).

 

1.5 Application pack for candidates

1.5.1. The application pack should include:

  • information about Oblong Ltd
  • the job description and person specification
  • an application form
  • a summary of main terms and conditions of the role
  • a statement of Oblongs equality and diversity policy and information about how to make a complaint
  • instructions on how to fill in the application form
  • closing date for applications
  • interview date
  • anticipated start date, particularly where this is an important constraint
  • the date by which applicants can expect to hear whether or not they are invited to interview

1.5.2. Other items of information, such as project development plans, budget details, examples of publications etc. will depend on the post being advertised.

1.5.3. When the funding for a post is clearly time limited this should be explained in the pack.

 

1.6 Application form

1.6.1. The application form should ask only for information which is relevant to the applicant’s ability to do the job.

1.6.2. It will not ask for a person’s

  • gender,
  • age,
  • marital status,
  • religion,
  • ethnic origin,
  • sexuality
  • nationality/citizenship

1.6.2.1. or other sensitive personal information unless occupational requirements apply or for purposes of monitoring, in which case providing this information will be optional and will be asked for on an anonymous detachable sheet. See below for questions about health and disability.

1.6.3. The exact design of the application form will differ for different jobs, but every attempt should be made to assist applicants to show how their skills and experience match those required by the person specification. Any limits on personal statements should be clearly stated on the form. In order to ensure a ‘level field’ for all applicants, CVs will not be accepted in place of, or in addition to, application forms.

1.6.4. Applicants may be asked to say where they saw the advertisement in order to assess the effectiveness of various advertising platforms.

1.6.5. The interview date (and where it is significant, the planned start date) will be stated on the application form so that anyone who is unable to attend on that day (or who has, for instance, a particularly long notice requirement in their current job) will not waste time unnecessarily filling in the form.

 

1.7 Job sharing and home working

1.7.1 Job sharing should always be considered as an option.

1.7.1.1. Unless there are clear reasons why this would not work (e.g. if the job is for less than 30 hours a week, has identified needs of continuity or individual availability, or has only limited funding for recruitment) the possibility of applying as a job share partner should be stated in the job description/information pack.

1.7.1.2. Applicants who wish to job share may apply with or without a preferred job partner.

1.7.1.3. Where people apply as a partnership and one person is selected for the post and the other is not, a job will be offered to the suitable applicant only. Similarly, if an applicant who applies for one half of a job share is selected as the best candidate, recruitment for a partner will be undertaken separately.

1.7.1.4. Applicants should be told that if they wish to apply on a job share basis, they must state this clearly on their application form.

1.7.1.5. ‘Job sharing’ may mean that a job is divided into component tasks and each partner is expected to perform his or her own defined tasks, or it may mean that each person performs a part of each of the tasks that comprise the job. It may be more helpful to think of the work as being divided into two discrete part-time posts rather than one shared post. This must be clarified to the successful candidates.

1.7.2 Home working

If a job can be done from home, this should also be stated in the information about the job and candidates invited to apply on that basis if they wish. The management of working from home, in terms of integration into Oblong’s peer management etc., should also be made clear.

 

1.8 Equality and diversity

We will always seek to recruit the best person for the job on merit and to avoid discrimination.

 

1.9 Health and disability

1.9.1. To ensure we do not discriminate against disabled people we will comply with the Equality Act which requires employers to make reasonable adjustments and bans employers from asking about health and disability until after a (conditional) offer (e.g. conditional upon references or DBS checks) of employment has been made, except:

1.9.1.1. to check whether the applicant can do the intrinsic parts of the job

1.9.1.2. to check whether reasonable adjustments should be made to the interview process, test etc.

1.9.1.3. for monitoring purposes

The job description and person specification will make it clear what the job involves, including information about, for instance, access, need to lift heavy equipment, need to drive, evening work.

It will be assumed that applicants will not put themselves forward for jobs that they are not capable of performing on health grounds.

Applicants will not be asked on the application form (and/or at interview) about their sickness record. Questions about any adjustments necessary for interview and to ascertain that the candidate is able to perform the intrinsic tasks of the job should be on a separate page which is removed before shortlisting, as below. Application forms and interview questions will address the candidates’ ability to perform the ‘intrinsic functions of the job’ in such a way that any health or physical limitations can be discussed with a view to establishing whether reasonable adjustments might be helpful.

No other questions relating to health or disability may be asked until after a conditional offer has been made. Once the selection process is complete and a conditional offer has been made, ways of solving any health problems will be discussed. Applicants will only be refused a job on grounds of health if it is felt that they would be unable to carry out the main functions of the job even after reasonable adjustments had been made. Where this is in doubt, an otherwise suitable candidate may be offered a job on a specified trial basis.

Care should be taken not to present information in such a way that it will discourage disabled people from applying.

All applicants will be informed (on the detachable sheet, as below) that referees will be asked to comment on their sickness record after a conditional job offer has been made. Any concerns will then be discussed with the applicant prior to their taking up the job.

 

1.10 Equal opportunity monitoring

Monitoring sheets should be separate to the main application form and removed before they are read for shortlisting. Monitoring forms will only be used in the context of a clear intention to analyse the applicant profile and review advertising practice.

1.10.1 Detachable front sheet

The front page of an application form, which contains the name and address of the applicant and their referees, should be detached from the rest of the application form before the shortlisting begins. A question about any requirement for ‘reasonable adjustments’ in the interview process should also be included on this detachable page (see above). The page should be cross-referenced with the application form and restored in order to invite shortlisted applicants to interview and to contact referees for the successful candidate and to make any required adjustments to the interview process. 

 

1.11 Criminal record

Candidates should be informed, in the application pack and in a letter inviting shortlisted candidates to interview, that they will be asked to declare any unspent convictions in confidence (in a sealed envelope) at interview before they are offered a job. Successful candidates will be requested to carry out a police check via the Disclosure and Barring Service at Oblongs expense, although under the Data Protection Act this cannot be a condition of acceptance.

Oblong Ltd will only ask for disclosure of spent convictions or other DBS checks where appropriate, e.g. where the post holder will be working directly with children or vulnerable adults.

 

1.12 Immigration and Asylum Act

All candidates will be informed that, if successful, they will be required to show evidence of their eligibility to work in the UK. Acceptable evidence might be a UK passport or other documents from the Home Office list of acceptable documents.

 

1.13 References

References will normally only be taken up for the person to whom the job is to be offered. Applicants will be asked on the application form to ensure that their referees are willing and able to provide a reference, and no job offer will be confirmed until satisfactory references are provided.

The purpose of references is to confirm information supplied by the candidate and to check that there are no undisclosed reasons why that person should not be offered the job.

Normally, two references will be requested. Usually referees will be asked to complete a reference request form covering matters such as honesty, absence/sickness record, (provided that questions about this are not asked if references are sought prior to job offer) experience and performance in previous employment.

Referees should normally include at least one who has known the applicant on a professional basis. Individuals who are returning to employment will not be disadvantaged by Oblong insisting that this referee is either recent or a manager.

References are confidential to the selection panel and the Trustee Board. See also Section 1.17 ‘Job offers’.

 

1.14 Confidentiality and retention of records

Before interviews have taken place, all application forms will be stored in an appropriately secure location and only available to the selection panel or some other person with a valid reason for needing access (e.g. in order to photocopy them for shortlisting).

Take care too at the initial stages as applications may be stored electronically, so think who would have access to them if they are held on a public server.

After interviews have taken place, confidential paperwork not required to be kept on record will be shredded as soon as practical after the appointment is made.

The application form of the successful candidate, along with references, should be kept in their personal file for as long as they remain in employment. Records of the selection procedure, including scoring and any accompanying notes for shortlisting, interviews and tests should also be kept for at least one year. All personal information of this kind must be securely stored in a locked filing cabinet or on password protected computers.

 

1.15 Shortlisting

Shortlisting is done as soon as possible after the closing date. It should be done independently by each member of the selection panel. Persons delegated by the Selection Panel may prepare a ‘long list’ of applicants who appear to meet the essential requirements of the job (for example, if there are a large number of applicants), but all applications will still be available for any member of the panel to scrutinise. Shortlisting will be done by scoring each applicant against each of the essential job requirements on the person specification and ranking applicants accordingly.

Unless there is obvious unanimity at this stage between all those shortlisting, invitation to interview will be decided by a process of discussion and elimination by the shortlisting panel. Discussions will be based on the evidence given on the application form. Usually no more than six people will be invited to interviews, which will normally all take place on the same day. If applicants are unable to attend on that day, their applications may not be considered. Oblong Ltd will try to rearrange interviews where possible but cannot guarantee this. Candidates who were unable to attend for interview in the first instance may be invited to apply again if no appointment is made.

Where possible, the interview date will be stated on the Application Form or advertising, to avoid any such problems.

If the shortlisting panel agrees that there are no applicants that meet the requirements of the person specification, they may decide not to interview and to take alternative action - for instance, to re-commence the recruitment process.

The selection panel will be responsible for agreeing the interview process, questions and any practical tests as appropriate. They will also agree how questions and tests are to be marked, and consider any weighting to be given to particular questions or tests.

Weighting, and any benchmarks the applicants are scored against will be agreed before shortlisting and interviews take place respectively.

 

Recruiting without an interview

In exceptional circumstances, the shortlisting panel may agree to proceed to making a job offer without holding an interview. This might happen, for instance, where there is only one candidate who has already been performing in the same or a similar role within Oblong and who meets the criteria of the person specification so that the panel feels that there is nothing new to be learned by interview or tests. This is to avoid being tied to excessively formal procedures in denial of common sense considerations.

However all applicants would still be required to submit an application form/letter and the principle of rigorous checking of the applicant’s abilities against the job description would still apply.

Declarations of interest

If any of the selection panel know any of the applicants, personally or professionally, they should declare this to the rest of the panel. It will be for the panel to decide whether this could be prejudicial and whether that member should withdraw. Their decision should be recorded with brief reasons. In general, personal knowledge of a candidate will not debar a panel member unless the applicant is a close relation or partner. If a panel member wishes to withdraw from the process, however, they should be allowed to do so and a replacement nominated.

Interview information

Candidates who are selected for interview should be informed as soon as possible of the time and venue of the interview. They should be told who will be interviewing them and the nature and duration of any tests they will be asked to perform. Care should be taken to check that the interview premises and the media used for any tests are accessible for all. Adjustments should be made where necessary.

Travel expenses

Oblong is unable to pay travel expenses for interview.

 

1.16 Interviews

Special arrangements for interview may be needed for disabled people and these should be accommodated wherever possible.

 

All candidates will be asked the same questions, although supplementary questions may be added to expand or clarify the answers given. Every attempt should be made to assist candidates to show the best of themselves. Questions should relate only to candidates’ experience and ability to do the job. Answers should be scored on a previously agreed system and these scores should be used as a guide to discussion at the conclusion of all the interviews. Application forms should be available to the panel at interview and should form part of the information on which the decision to select is made. An explicit record of the reasons for appointment or non-appointment should be made on the appropriate form.

Interviewers should be aware that candidates may in some circumstances have the right to see notes made about them at interview.

 

Involving other staff and volunteers in interview process

Usually other staff and/or volunteers will be involved in welcoming candidates. In some cases they may be asked to take a more formal role, such as administering a test, assisting with a ‘role play’ or occasionally undertaking a different kind of interview. The degree of input into the decision making process that this will entail should be made explicit both to the member of staff/volunteer and to the candidates. For instance, ‘welcoming’ staff/volunteers may be asked to comment on the appropriateness of candidates’ social interaction for the post in question. These observations could be used to confirm or modify the impression given in the formal interviews, but would not normally be decisive in determining who is successful.

There will be no power of ‘veto’ for anyone who is not a member of the selection panel.

 

Decision

All candidates should be fully discussed in order to enable feedback to be given if requested.

The panel should be free to discuss who would best fulfil the job required taking into account all known factors. ‘Known factors’ will include information presented in the application form, performance at interview and in tests.

 

If there is agreement that none of the candidates appears to be able to do the job, no appointment will be made. If there is disagreement about who is the best candidate, discussion will continue until agreement is reached. In rare cases, some candidates may be asked to return for a second interview to clarify or expand certain points. If possible, the entire panel should be present at this second interview and have a clear understanding of what they would achieve that they had not been able to achieve in the first interview.

 

1.17 Job offers

1.17.1. A conditional oral offer should be made as soon as possible to confirm that the successful candidate wants the job. If they do, a letter should be sent offering the job subject to the satisfactory outcome of reference requests, police or DBS checks, sight of essential qualifications, work permit confirmation. The offer letter should also state the main terms (i.e. pay, hours of work, pension entitlement and whether the job is temporary or permanent), give a proposed start date and state any arrangements for interim contact etc. The letter should offer a copy of the full Written Statement of Employment Particulars if required. A letter making an unconditional offer, with an agreed start date, should be sent once all checks have been done and references received. Other factors to include in the offer letter if appropriate:

1.17.1.1. Whether or not funding is tied to the particular post.

1.17.1.2. If experience or qualifications have been a significant factor in the decision to appoint, a job offer may also be conditional upon confirmation of these (e.g. sight of certificates). Some jobs may be offered subject to medical reports.

1.17.2. References

References should be sought with all possible speed. Returned references should be shown to the interviewing panel to confirm that they are in order and the successful candidate informed when the job offer is finally confirmed. Any concerns about references, police checks or medicals should be referred to the whole selection panel. Where concerns relate to health or disability, consideration must be given as to whether any reasonable adjustments can be made which would enable the candidate to carry out the job.

1.17.3. Unsuccessful candidates

Rejection letters (or emails) should be sent to unsuccessful candidates as soon as possible. These candidates should be offered the opportunity for feedback about their performance in the application process (application form, interview and tests) and a member (or members) of the selection panel should be nominated to do this. They should keep notes of scores and discussion in order to help them to do this. Feedback should not make reference to the identity of other candidates, or to their performance/skills except in the broadest of terms.

 

2. Temporary / fixed term / specific task vacancies

Where a post is fixed term this will be made clear in the advertisement. Specific task posts will also be clearly advertised as such, with a clear indication that subsequent work cannot be guaranteed. Temporary posts will normally only be offered as short-term measures to cover the absence of permanent staff (e.g. on maternity leave). Wherever possible, the temporary post holder will be told how long the post will continue on a temporary basis, although this is likely to be unpredictable in some cases (e.g. sickness cover) and subject to revision if circumstances change.

In order to give management flexibility to meet genuine short term needs, recruitment to appointments of up to 12 months (for example, casual, fixed term, provisional) may be carried out without a full open competition process. However where this is the case, it is important to stress the requirement below that a more stringent open process will be followed if the post becomes permanent.

Where a vacancy for a temporary post exists, this will be advertised internally first. Any current staff member who expresses an interest will be asked to submit a formal letter of application. Where appropriate, or where the post applied for involves skills and experience different to those shown in the candidate’s current post, the application letter should also state relevant qualifications for the new/additional post. If only one person expresses an interest, they will be considered for the post on the basis of the letter of application and a formal interview (unless the outcome is obvious as described above). Where more than one person has expressed an interest, a selection procedure will take place also based on application letter and interview. Selection will be the responsibility of a nominated trustee and/or member(s) of staff nominated by the trustees. They may recommend to the board that the post be considered by a more comprehensive selection panel if appropriate.

 

If no current staff express an interest, Oblong will attempt to fill the vacancy as quickly as possible by various means, including personal invitation, word of mouth and personal contacts. If this fails, limited appropriate advertising will be used, proportionate to the nature and duration of the post.

 

In no case will an appointment be made without a process of checking the suitability and capability of the potential post holder. Unless the person is a current member of staff or has worked for Oblong Ltd in the recent past, references will be sought. The successful person will be given written terms and conditions for the temporary post which will include clear notification that if the post becomes permanent, an open selection process may be followed.

 

‘Temp to perm’

If a temporary post becomes permanent (for instance because you receive new funding or because the post was for temporary cover of sickness or maternity leave and the substantive post holder resigns), Oblong will consider whether the post needs to be advertised or whether it can be given to the temporary worker without following a further selection procedure. The decision is likely to depend on how comprehensive the original procedure was and whether other potential applicants were discouraged from applying because of the temporary nature of the post. If it is decided that the post should be openly advertised, any temporary postholder will be able to apply for the permanent post but will not be guaranteed selection.

 

3. Increased hours on existing positions

Occasionally work may increase and/or additional funding may become available to allow extra hours to be added on to existing posts. It may also be the case that a current worker voluntarily reduces the hours they work for reasons other than reduced funding, potentially releasing hours for another worker. Where appropriate, the post will be advertised internally in the first instance, and appointments made on the same procedure as for a temporary post (see above). If possible, Oblong Ltd will try to share allocation of extra hours fairly between suitably qualified staff. If the increase in hours is temporary, this must be made clear in writing as an addition to the post holder’s Written Statement of Employment Particulars (written contract). If there is insufficient take-up from existing staff, the hours should be advertised and selection carried out as normal.

 

4. Problems

4.1. Redundancy and Redeployment

If member of staff is made redundant, either because their job ceases to exist owing to cuts or conclusion of funding, or because the nature of the job description fundamentally changes, Oblong Ltd will attempt to identify suitable alternative employment according to the Redundancy Policy stated in the Written Statement of Employment Particulars / Terms and Conditions of Employment. Where a redundancy situation exists at Oblong Ltd, no post will be advertised externally until existing staff have been considered for the post.

 

4.2. Existing employees becoming disabled

Oblong Ltd will help employees who become disabled (due to physical or mental factors) during their working life and wherever possible will assist with their rehabilitation and retraining. The aim is to maintain such staff in employment wherever practicable and reasonable steps to achieve this may involve adjusting working practices and methods as well as redeployment to alternative work.

Where recently disabled staff are deemed to meet the minimum requirements of alternative work they will be afforded priority consideration for such work before considering other internal or external candidates unless other candidates have an equal entitlement to priority consideration under this or another relevant policy.

 

4.3. Grievances/complaints

If a member of staff feels that they have been unfairly treated in relation to any vacancy, they may raise a grievance in the normal manner.

If an applicant who is not a staff member feels they have been unfairly treated in relation to any vacancy, the matter should be referred to a member of staff who is not on the selection panel, or whoever is appropriate according to the Complaints Policy. This must be clearly stated in the information sent to candidates.

If a grievance/complaint concerns the appointment of another person to the job in question, the appointment will be irrevocable. The grievance/complaint will be addressed in terms of future practice and policy.

 

 

5. Relevant Legislation

  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Equality Act 2010
  • Data Protection Act 1998
  • Nationality, Immigration and Asylum Act 2002
  • Rehabilitation of Offenders Act 1974
  • Legal Aid and Punishment of Offenders Act 2012

 

6. Related policies

  • Equality & Diversity Policy
  • Written Statement of Employment Particulars
  • Data Protection Policy

Ratified 13/1/2014 by Trustees

This policy was based on the Pay and Employment Rights Service (PERS) Recruitment & Selection policy, model policy, dated 29th October 2013.

 

Redundancy and Reduction of hours Policy

1. Statement of avoidance

Oblong Ltd works within a tight financial programme that is dependant on grants, commissioning and other income.

Within these constraints, Oblong Ltd recognises the importance of job security and will act to prevent redundancy where possible by actively pursuing current and alternative sources of funding and structures for the delivery of the organisation’s business. This will include discussion with current funders and partner organisations.

However, if funding is not secured or the business structures render it necessary the following procedure will take effect.

 

2. Principles governing redundancies

It is the agreed aim of Oblong Ltd and its staff to maintain and enhance the efficiency, quality and viability of the organisation’s work in order to safeguard the current and future employment of employees. Oblong Ltd, in consultation with staff will seek to minimise the effect of redundancies by looking at alternative options.
Where compulsory redundancy is inevitable, Oblong Ltd will handle the redundancy in the most fair, consistent and sympathetic manner possible and minimise, as far as possible, any hardship that may be suffered by the employees concerned.

The overriding aim of Oblong Ltd’s policy in relation to staffing levels and redundancy is, however, the future viability of the organisation.

In many cases, when a situation arises that may require redundancies, it should be resolved by a voluntary rearrangement or reduction of hours by agreement by the whole staff team.
Operational responsibility for handling redundancies will rest with the staff team unless there is no alternative but to involve Trustees or outside agencies.
Any decision made by the staff team regarding a change in role, hours or Job Description should be made with the agreement of the member of staff in question.
In the event of a block by a member of staff, or a lack of consensus, all alternatives will be presented to the Board of Trustees who will make a final decision.

 

3.  Consultation & triggers

3.1. Triggers

This redundancy policy may be triggered by one of a number of situations, the nature of which will involve the staff and trustees to a greater or lesser degree.

  • Approaching end of funding cycle
    Three months before the end of a staff member’s temporary contract where they are wholly or partially funded by a grant that runs out on the same date, staff will make it a priority to discuss whether the staff member should stay in role after that date.
    If the staff team (on advice of the Development Collective) are confident that grant funding will be achieved they may choose to continue to fund the role out of core funds for an agreed length of time for up to four weeks.
    In the event of a variance of funding objectives, the staff team may decide that the future role is sufficiently similar that the current member of staff can stay in post with minor amendment to Job Description & minimal re-training.
    Note: Section 1.2 of the Recruitment and Selection Policy might be helpful in this process.
    In the case of a staff member being partially funded by other assured funding in discussion with the staff team, may voluntarily reduce their hours to those already allocated funds.

  • Fluctuation of hours required to fulfill external contracts
    The staff member(s) responsible for delivery of a particular contract should keep track of the fluctuating time requirements of delivery and administration of said contact.
    If the qualifications required to fulfill the contact are especially specific, it may not be appropriate for other staff members to share out essential responsibilities.
    Staff members responsible for the delivery of contracts should be prepared to reduce (or increase) their working week in line with the current requirements of the contract in question.
    The management of working hours by casual workers contributing to a contract should be dealt with in line with the Contract, Freelance & Casual Employment policy

  • Reorganisation of core responsibilities
    In the event of a significant reduction in restricted funding, a proportional reduction in management hours although not certain is likely, along with a review of core hours commitments.
    Such a reduction of core hours should be shared fairly & transparently in accordance with the needs of the organisation.  Redistribution of core hours between staff should only be done if staff are suitably qualified or in a position to be adequately trained for the role.
    If a significant proportion of a staff member’s hours are reduced as a result of a loss of restricted funding, it may be inappropriate for them to keep any nominal management hours that remain.

  • Significant drop in reserves or projected income
    Financial reports to the board of trustees should include any concerns about the sustainability of paying salaries at current levels.  
    Trustees may ask at that time, or any other, that the staff identify and make savings, including reduction of hours or redundancies.

 

3.2. Consultation

In situations where staffing levels may be cut and redundancy is therefore an option the staff team at the earliest opportunity discuss the situation and make a proposal to the Board of Trustees or review possible courses of action, including alternatives to redundancy.

Consultation among the staff will take place, giving as long a period as possible for alternative ideas to be discussed before any notice of dismissal is given. This period will include an assessment of the organisation’s overall work. Individual staff will also be informed and consulted about changes in staffing levels and arrangements, including any redundancy, which may directly affect them.

The Board of Trustees of Oblong Ltd will disclose, in writing to the appropriate representatives the following information concerning the proposals for redundancies so that the representatives can play a constructive part in the consultation process:  

  • The reasons for the proposals, including financial information about Oblong Ltd to assist the consultation process.

  • The numbers and descriptions of employees it is proposed to dismiss as redundant.

  • The total number of employees of any such description employed by Oblong Ltd.

  • The way in which employees will be selected for redundancy.

  • How the dismissals will be carried out, including the period over which the dismissals are to take effect.

  • The method of calculating the redundancy payments (other than statutory payments) to be made to those who are dismissed.

 

4.     Alternatives to redundancy

Oblong Ltd will consider the following measures as a means to minimise or avoid compulsory redundancy:

  • natural turnover of staff

  • reducing or eliminating any overtime currently being worked

  • termination of the employment of temporary or contract staff

  • restrictions on recruitment

  • retraining and redeployment to other parts of the organisation

  • introduction of short-time working, temporary lay off, reduced hours, or job

    sharing (according the nature of the role, and the way it is funded, in line with ‘3.1 Triggers’ )

  • seeking applicants for early retirement, or voluntary redundancy. All applications for voluntary redundancy will be subject to approval by the Board having regard to the operational needs of the organisation and are not automatically accepted.

  • retirement of those employees already beyond the normal retirement age

 

5.     Procedures governing redundancies

All members of staff, including staff with disabilities, part-time staff and staff who are pregnant or on maternity leave, will be treated fairly when Oblong Ltd is considering redundancy possibilities. The following areas will ultimately determine the posts that will be subject to redundancy notice:

  • the financial position of Oblong Ltd

  • the requirements and obligations to funding bodies

  • the needs of the reduced service.

    Oblong Ltd is committed to a selection procedure that is fair, consistent, objective and non-discriminatory. When selecting employees for redundancy, Oblong Ltd will agree the criteria for selection with the staff through the staff team. Staff in the agreed pool for selection will be scored against some or all of the following criteria; specific criteria may be given increased importance by differences in weighting.

  • the operational needs and future viability of Oblong Ltd

  • the skills and experience of the employee

  • standard of work performance

  • attendance or (unspent) disciplinary record of the employee

  • the potential of the employee to be adaptable should alternative work be offered

  • requests for voluntary redundancy and/or early retirement

  • length of service, where this reflects value to the organisation and is not solely dependent on age difference.
    Note: This does not allow for a policy of ‘last in, first out’.

Staff selected for redundancy will be informed of the decision and given opportunity to appeal.
Following the consultation period, staff will be informed in writing of the decision to dismiss them by reason of redundancy.
Upon appeal, staff may bring a colleague, companion or representative of their choice to the appeal meeting. Following the meeting they will be informed of the outcome in writing.

 

6.    Entitlements

Entitlements given are the statutory minimum.

Staff being made redundant will be given not less than 12 weeks notice. The notice period will commence from the date of the written notice.

Staff being made redundant may leave before the end of their contractual period of notice without loss of redundancy payment, but without payment of salary or notice pay for the remaining notice period. Staff who are not at work because they are sick, on maternity or paternity leave or have been asked not to work their full notice period will still receive contractual notice pay.

Staff being made redundant, once in their contractual notice period, will be given reasonable paid time off (in agreement with other members of staff, in such a way as to minimise disruption to the normal operation of the organisation) to seek alternative employment and attend interviews.

At the discretion of the staff team, staff selected for redundancy may also use the office equipment for job application purposes.

All employees subject to redundancy will qualify for redundancy payments if they have 2 or more years’ continuous service with Oblong Ltd. This includes employees on fixed term contracts who have 2 or more years’ continuous service. Employees with less than 2 years continuous service will not qualify for a redundancy payment.

All statutory entitlements will be paid by Oblong Ltd.

For each complete year of service, up to a maximum of 20 years, employees are entitled to: -

  • for each year of service up to the age of 21: half a week’s pay

  • for each year of service between the age of 22 and 40: one week’s pay

  • for each year of service at and above age 41: one and half weeks’ pay

Depending on age and length of service, employees can receive a maximum of 30 weeks pay.

‘A week’s pay’ will be defined as whatever is lower of the following two values

  • £464 per week pro rata of last years average hours worked

  • average gross pay per week of your last year of work, ending at the date of notice of dismissal

 

7. Relevant Legislation

  • Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992
  • Trade Union Reform and Employment Rights Act 1993
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002

 

8. Related policies

  • Equality & Diversity Policy
  • Written Statement of Employment Particulars
  • Contract, Freelance & Casual Employment policy
  • Recruitment & Selection Policy

 

9. Further information

  • PERS Helpline: 01924 428033 www.per.org.uk  or admin@pers.org.uk
    PERS Employment Rights leaflet No. 6 Redundancy or  Redundancy Toolkit:
    www.pers.org.uk follow links to ‘Publications’ and ‘Leaflets’ or ‘Toolkits’.
  • The .GOV website has some redundancy information and a redundancy calculator, see www.direct.gov.uk and search for ‘Redundancy’
  • ACAS (www.acas.org.uk) has a number of different leaflets. Use the search engine for ‘Redundancy’ or click the ‘Redundancy and notice’ link on the home page.
  • This policy was based on the Pay and Employment Rights Service (PERS) Redundancy Policy, model policy, dated April 2013.

Reserves Policy and Guidance

Ratified 18/1/2011 by Trustees

Complaints Policy

Lone Working Policy and guidelines

Please note that this policy requires various other procedural documents, which have been kept confidential for the safety of volunteers and employees.

1. Oblong policy

Oblong acknowledges that there may be an increased risk to the health and safety of it’s employees, volunteers and tenants when working alone. Oblong therefore acknowledges its duty to make adequate provision for the health and safety of lone workers. It is the policy of Oblong to fully implement the general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work etc Act 1974 and The Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999 in respect of lone working.

 

2. Key legislative requirements

General duties under the Health and Safety at Work etc., Act 1974 and specific duties of the Management of Health Safety at Work Regulations 1999 require Oblong to provide a safe environment, safe equipment and safe systems of work for its employees and those working on its premises, including volunteers. Risk assessments must be carried out to identify risks to lone workers and control measures introduced to minimise the risks wherever practicable. These requirements are applicable to all work situations/activities and in particular where staff and students are working alone or outside normal working hours.

 

3. Oblong’s responsibilities

Oblong Shall;

  • ensure that a risk assessment of lone working is carried out, a procedures flow diagram which forms part of this policy (appendix A) and that appropriate records are maintained

  • ensure measures are implemented and maintained to reduce the risk of lone working to its lowest practicable level

  • ensure that all staff and volunteers are aware of Oblong’s procedures for lone working through appropriate information, instruction and training.

  • ensure that sufficient resources are made available to control and manage lone working arrangements

  • ensure the effectiveness of this policy is monitored

 

3.1 Oblong employees

Oblong employees shall;

  • ensure that they comply with the lone working procedures and they report any incidents at the first available opportunity.

3.2 Volunteers

Volunteers shall;

  • ensure that they comply with the lone working procedures and they report any incidents to their designated ‘buddy’ immediately.

 

4. Risk assessment and control

A lone working risk assessment will form part of this policy (appendix B) to ensure that the hazards to the lone worker are identified and that suitable and satisfactory control measures are implemented, monitored and reviewed.

 

5. Guidelines for lone working

This guidance offers guidelines to staff and volunteers of Oblong. It is not intended to provide a rigid, restrictive system.

 

5.1. Hazard categories

The assessment of hazard rating based upon a suitable risk assessment should be made by the Centre Co-ordinator. In selecting which particular category an activity fits within, the following guidance should be considered.

 

5.2. High risk activities - Category 1

No person should work alone where there is a serious health or safety hazard. Practical examples of this include:

  1. Working at height;

  2. One to one meetings with anyone who is believed to be under the influence of drugs, alcohol or is known to have a history of aggressive behaviour.

Wherever the above work is carried out, a second person should remain within calling distance whenever these acute hazards are present.

Volunteers would not normally be allowed to work on Category 1 activities unless

adequate and immediate supervision is provided.

5.3. Medium risk activities - Category 2

Medium rated hazards fit into this category. The dangers would not be so immediate as those outlined under the Category 1 heading, but it would still be desirable for a second person to be present where reasonably practicable to take emergency action.

Example of Category 2 activities:

  1. work involving manual handling likely to cause injury,

  2. Staffing reception during events with over 20 participants

  3. taking rubbish out under darkness

  4. cash handling in public spaces

  5. leaving the building on own with cash

  6. staffing reception for events that are primarily aimed at under 18s

Volunteers would not normally be allowed to work on Category 2 activities unless

adequate and immediate supervision is provided or have the appropriate skills and experience for the situation.

5.4. Low risk activities - Category 3

Where there is no hazard involved in the activity, e.g. reading, writing, use of rooms for Rooms for general purposes, computer terminals, etc., it is not necessary for a second person to be in calling distance. The only action required for such activities outside normal working hours would be to complete logging in and out book at reception

5.5. Category assessment

The assessment on hazard categories should be based upon an adequate risk assessment Risk assessments should be undertaken by a competent person.

 

Ratified May 2015 by trustees, with condition of additional development of Buddy system and amendment to procedure document.
Procedure document & Buddy system finalised June 2015.

Oblong Ltd Directors' Report and Unaudited Accounts

 

Our year end is the 31st March and our latest signed accounts, which have been approved by our independent examiner are available here.

If you have any further question please contact me on adam(at)oblong(dot)org(dot)uk.

Legal and Administrative Information

 

Directors

  • Sian Greenley (Chair)
  • Karen Friend
  • Peter Tatham
  • Mark Ford
  • Michael Su
  • Liam Hemingway (appointed 18 April 2016)
  • Fran Coard (appointed 19 April 2016)

 

Secretary

Christopher Lightfoot

Charity number 1120379

 

Company number 03147855

 

Registered office

Woodhouse Community Centre

197 Woodhouse Street

Leeds

West Yorkshire

LS6 2NY

 

Independent Examiner

Stuart B Lodge FCA

Stuart B Lodge & Co

Chartered Accountants

44 Bradford Road

Idle

Bradford

West Yorkshire

BD10 9PE

 

Bankers

Triodos Bank 

Deanery Road

Bristol

Avon

BS1 5AS

Directors' Report for the year ended 31 March 2016

Directors' Report for the year ended 31 March 2016

The directors present their report and accounts for the year ended 31 March 2015.

 

The accounts have been prepared in accordance with the accounting policies set out in note 1 to the accounts and comply with the charities constitution and Memorandum & Articles of Association, the Companies Act 2006, Charities Act 2011.

 

Structure, governance and management

The organisation is a charitable company limited by guarantee, incorporated on 18th January 1996. The charity was established under a Memorandum of Association which established the objects and powers of the charity and is governed under its Articles of Association. In the event of the charity being wound up members are required to contribute an amount not exceeding £1. The objects and articles were amended and lodged at Companies House in August 2011.

 

Recruitment and appointment of trustees

New trustees are interviewed by two current board members for suitability.

 

The trustees of the charity are also directors for the purpose of company law. Under the requirements of the Memorandum and Articles of Association the trustees are elected to serve until the annual general meeting and stand for re-election.

 

The trustees have the power to co-opt additional trustees and no more than 12 in total.

 

New trustees are invited and encouraged to attend a series of meetings and short training sessions to familiarise themselves with the charity and the context within which it operates.

 

Trustee induction and training

All new trustees receive a prepared trustee induction pack which includes the following Oblong information:

● Induction document

● Memorandum and articles of association

● Minutes of the last three board meetings

● Last three years annual accounts

● Staffing structure chart

● Board contact details

● Last three newsletters

● Last annual review

● Other relevant publicity materials

● Copies of relevant policies

● Copy of 'The Essential Trustee' from the Charity commission 

 

 

 

All trustees are encouraged to meet with at least one member of the existing board of trustees and/or a staff member to look at the responsibilities and time commitments for trustees.

 

The directors who served during the year were:-

 

Sian Greenley (Chair)

Peter Tatham

Colin Peter Fairhurst (resigned 26 November 2015)

Karen Friend 

Mark Ford 

Michael Su (appointed 26 November 2015)

 

Related parties

Oblong Ltd supports a number of community groups and these are referred to as “member projects”.

 

Organisation structure

Oblong is managed by a voluntary trustee board, which meets quarterly, and which makes all major policy and strategic decisions. Oblong is managed by a team of eight part time staff and volunteers. 

 

Oblong is non-hierarchical, the staff team manage each other and are responsible to the board for managing the organisations daily activity.

 

Oblong uses several collectives which encompass the operational running to deliver its objectives that include but are not restricted to:

 

● Reception and bookings collective

● ICT and maintenance collective

● Development collective 

● Marketing collective

● Gardening collective

● Mental Wellbeing collective

● Finance collective

● HR collective

 

Risk management

The trustees have conducted a review of all risks to which Oblong is exposed and are confident systems are in place to mitigate these risks. 

 

There are procedures in place to ensure that the quality of provision is maintained, the procedures are reviewed regularly, along with ensuring that staff regularly receive training to update skills and knowledge.

 

A risk register has been established and is updated annually. Where appropriate systems or procedures have been established to mitigate risks the charity faces. Significant external risks to funding have led to the development of a strategic plan which will allow for the diversification of funding and activities. 

 

Internal controls are monitored by the implementing of procedures for authorisation of all transactions and projects. Procedures are in place to ensure compliance with health and safety of staff, volunteers and visitors to the centre. Appropriate DBS (Disclosure and Barring Service) checks are made when required.

 

Objectives and activities

The stated objectives of the charity are:-

 

"Oblong aims to develop the capacity and skills of people living in socially and economically disadvantaged areas in such a way that they are better able to identify, and help meet, their needs and to create active, flourishing communities and to run a community centre, primarily for the benefit of the Woodhouse, Little London and Hyde Park areas"

 

In setting our objectives and planning our activities our trustees have given serious consideration to the Charity Commission's general guidance on public benefit and in particular the advancement of education and the enhancement of citizenship or community development.

 

Achievements and performance

 

Oblong resources

Oblong is user led and tries to provide the services people want. This currently includes:

● Drop in IT with access to print facilities

● Design and video work

● ESOL classes

● Head Space mental health well-being course

● Wide variety of volunteering opportunities

● Local gardening projects

● Community Centre facilities

 

Volunteering

Oblong is all about volunteers - they run most of the services we provide and without them we couldn't function. This year we have had over 100 volunteers take on many roles including gardening, fundraising, IT support, design, teaching ESOL, reception and bookings, administration, supporting small community groups, marketing and more.  Over three quarters of our reception and bookings volunteers have gone on to employment and/or further education/training.

 

At the end of April 2015 we successfully completed our Lottery funded volunteer project ‘Make a Difference’, with an excellent independent evaluation and positive feedback from the Lottery.  In August 2015 we are awarded a new three year grant to deliver our ‘Learn, Engage Do’ project. The project works with disadvantaged adults to develop their skills and confidence enabling them to move on to further volunteering or education, training or employment.

 

Volunteers are involved in every level of Oblong and make decisions on how the services are delivered in the different ‘collectives’ that make up the organisation.

 

Our Volunteers contribute so much to the work that Oblong does and we couldn’t achieve half of what we do without their skills and enthusiasm.

 

We are developing partnerships with other local organisations and education providers (eg Swarthmore / Northern College) to develop progression routes for our volunteers

We have already seen some of our volunteers  moved on to employment, and other volunteer opportunities, teaching English online, a nursery assistant, becoming a member of our Board of Trustees.

Active Citizens

A programme run in coordination with the British Council, Active Citizens connects and empowers people locally, nationally and worldwide. We’re running training courses and giving support to people who want to volunteer or set up new community action projects. We’re also creating global links by hosting international visitors and sending our own active citizens to see community projects in Morocco.

Woodhouse Community Centre

Our aim is to run the centre for the benefit of the local community, that everyone feels welcome at the centre, they enjoy their time here and leave wanting to come back. Our room bookings have increased and the number of activities available at the centre continues to expand. We now have a daily afterschool club for children, and almost daily activities for older people in Woodhouse and Little London. We have many activities that aim to support healthy active lifestyles, including; Yoga, Taekwondo, Krav Maga and Martial Arts. We also have a number of programmes supporting positive mental health, such as the Expert Patient Programme, Head Space, Meditation and Self Esteem courses. Community wide events include the monthly clothing exchange, Oblong cinema, community English conversation classes, Pay As You Feel junk food cafe three days a week and our Craft and a Cuppa group. Oblong have also started a monthly social that brings together tenants, staff, volunteers, room bookers, regulars and interested member of the community to chat, socialise, share food and plan for the future.

The IT suite and resource centre continue to be popular, providing computer and internet access to many local residents. The garden is full of spring flowers, and enjoyed by many centre users and members of the public.

 

English for Speakers of Other Languages

There is a huge need for English lessons in Leeds, especially for refugees and asylum seekers. With support our volunteers have set up and run a weekly free class, helping over 40 people to learn English. The group has a regular 8 - 10 attendees and is run by 2 LED volunteers who are gaining valuable experience in teaching.

 

Mental Wellbeing

A seven week course that helps people to discover their own ways to deal with stress, cope with difficult times and feel positive about themselves. Developed by Oblong and health professionals, Head Space shows how positive thinking, assertiveness skills, creativity, exercise, problem-solving and making plans for the future can help people get back on track during the difficult times that happen to all of us. This year Head Space has developed significantly, moving into different areas of Leeds and getting funding from the NHS and Local Authority. We’ve run over 30 courses, working in partnership with voluntary and statutory organisations all over the city and helping BME groups, parents, visually impaired people, asylum seekers and many others.

Leeds Locality Consortium

Oblong are part of the Leeds Locality Consortium which is aiming to asset transfer 8 local community centres from Leeds City Council to create Leeds Community Spaces. The Consortium are looking to complete the asset transfer in April 2017.

 

Financial Review

The Financial Statements for 2016 show incoming resources to be £273,249, an increase of £39,709 on the year before.

 

The overall balance at the year end increased from £189,190 to £230,497 with unrestricted reserves now standing at £64,437.

 

This year we have grown our earned income from room rental and contracted training as well as being successful in attracting increased grant funding. Due to a gap in grant funding at the start of the year we have been unable to make sufficient capital repayments on the outstanding loan and which has increased slightly due to interest applied. The loan repayments have now been restructured and we are in a stable position moving forwards to honour the payments while adding to reserves in future years.

 

Funders

We would like to thank all the funders who have made this work possible this year including The Big Lottery fund, Social Investment Business, Brelms trust, Lloyds Foundation, Public Health NE, Leeds mind, Leeds GATE, British Council, Leeds Community Foundation, Groundwork Leeds.

 

Reserves

The Board has agreed to maintain reserve funds at a sufficient level in order to allow the smooth operation of the charities activities. The policy aims to hold between 3 and 6 months of resources expended, which equates to £75,000-£150,000. At present this level is at £64,437. We are aware this level falls below the target but have still managed over the last twelve months to add a modest £3,682. The revised Strategic plan for 2016-19 will detail how we hope to add gradually but surely to this amount to build up to a sustainable level as our services expand.

 

Plans for future period

Over the past 4 years, taking on the management of Woodhouse Community Centre has been a step-change in the scope of Oblongs operations. Our ongoing aim is to make the Centre the most accessible, sustainable and thriving community hub that will provide a wide range of learning, recreational, cultural, social and health activities. In 2015 - 2018 we’ll also be looking to develop new funding streams and expanding our mental wellbeing programme. We will work with the other members of Leeds Locality Consortium to develop new funding opportunities.

 

In addition to continuing to run these ongoing projects we aim to:

- develop an emotional resilience project for families

- run a ‘mental wellbeing at work’ course

- include work with youth and young people;

- improve outward looking communications;

- increase engagement / strategic marketing;

- measure our impact measurement;

- place stronger emphasis on health and well-being;

- strengthen emphasis on community development and small groups; and

Oblongs Strategic Plan for 2016-19 is currently being finalised and will detail specific targets identified to ensure we meet these aims.

 

On behalf of the board of directors

Independent Examiners report to the Directors of Oblong Ltd

I report on the accounts of the charity for the year ended 31 March 2016.

 

Respective responsibilities of Directors and Examiner

 

The directors, who also act as trustees for the charitable activities of Oblong Ltd are responsible for the preparation of the accounts. The directors consider that an audit is not required for this year under Section 144(2) of the Charities Act 2011, (the 2011 Act) and that an independent examination is needed. 

 

The charity's gross income exceeded £100,000 and I am qualified to undertake the examination being a Chartered Accountant.

 

Having satisfied myself that the charity is not subject to audit under company law and is eligible for independent examination it is my responsibility to:

(i) examine the accounts under section 145 of the 2011 Act;

(ii) to follow the procedures laid down in the general Directions given by the Charity Commission under section 145(5)(b) of the 2011 Act; and

(iii) to state whether particular matters have come to my attention.

 

Basis of Independent Examiner’s report

 

My examination was carried out in accordance with the general Directions given by the Charity Commission. An examination includes a review of the accounting records kept by the charity and a comparison of the accounts presented with those records. It also includes consideration of any unusual items or disclosures in the accounts, and seeking explanations from you as trustees concerning any such matters. The procedures undertaken do not provide all the evidence that would be required in an audit and consequently no opinion is given as to whether the accounts present a “true and fair view” and the report is limited to those matters set out in the statement below.

 

Your attention is drawn to the fact that the charity has prepared the accounts in accordance with Accounting and Reporting by Charities; Statement of Recommended Practice applicable to charities, preparing their accounts in accordance with Financial Reporting Standard (FRS102) in preference to the Accounting and Reporting by Charities; Statement of recommended practice issued in April 2005 which is referred to in the extant regulations but has since been withdrawn.

 

I understand that this has been done in order for the accounts to provide a true and fair view in accordance with Generally Accepted Accounting Practice effective for reporting periods beginning on or after 1 January 2015.

 

Independent Examiner’s statement

 

In connection with my examination, no matter has come to my attention:

(a) which gives me reasonable cause to believe that in any material respect the requirements:

(i) to keep accounting records in accordance with section 386 of the Companies Act 2006; 

(ii) to prepare accounts which accord with the accounting records, comply with the accounting requirements of section 396 of the Companies Act 2006 and with the 

methods and principles of the Statement of Recommended Practice: Accounting and Reporting by Charities; have not been met; or

(b) to which, in my opinion, attention should be drawn in order to enable a proper understanding of the accounts to be reached.

 

Stuart B Lodge FCA

Stuart B Lodge & Co

Chartered Accountants

44 Bradford Road

Idle

Bradford

West Yorkshire

BD10 9PE

Statement Of Financial Activities - Including income and expenditure account

Balance sheet at 31 March 2016

Notes to the accounts

1. Accounting policies

 

1.1 Basis of preparation

The accounts have been prepared under the historical cost convention unless otherwise stated.

 

The accounts have been prepared in accordance with applicable accounting standards, the Statement of Recommended Practice (SORP) applicable to charities preparing their accounts in accordance with the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the UK and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102) published on 16 July 2014, the Financial Reporting Standard applicable in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland (FRS 102) the Charities Act 2011, the Companies Act 2006 and UK Generally Accepted Practice as it applies from 1 January 2015.

 

The charity constitutes a public benefit entity as defined under FRS102.

 

In preparing the accounts the trustees have considered whether in applying the accounting policies required by FSR102 and the Charities SORP FRS102 a restatement of comparative items was needed. No restatements were required. 

 

1.2 Incoming resources

Core funding revenue grants are credited to the income and expenditure account as and when receivable. 

 

Revenue grants for specific projects are credited to the income and expenditure account as and when receivable and unspent amounts are carried forward as part of the restricted funds in the balance sheet. 

 

1.3 Resources expended

Expenditure is recognised on an accruals basis as a liability is incurred. Expenditure includes any VAT which cannot be recovered and is reported as part of the expenditure to which it relates.

 

Charitable expenditure comprises those costs incurred by the charity in the delivery of its activities and services for beneficiaries.

 

Governance costs includes those costs associated with meeting the constitutional and statutory requirement of the charitable company.

 

All costs are allocated between the expenditure categories on the SOFA on a basis designed to reflect the use of the resource.

 

1.4 Tangible fixed assets and depreciation

Tangible fixed assets are stated at cost less depreciation. Depreciation is provided at rates calculated to write off the cost less estimated residual value of each asset over its expected useful life, as follows:-

Fixtures and fittings 5 years straight line

Computers and equipment 3 years straight line

 

It is the policy of the charitable company to only include on the balance sheet individual items of a capital nature which cost £1,500 or more and only relates to those items that can be used for more than one year.

Notes to the accounts - income detail

Notes to accounts - expense detail

Analysis and further thoughts

This supplementary information is to help interpret the accounts and also some of my own reflections. 

 

Unrestricted money and reserves

 

How much have we got? £64,437, we have added an extra £3,682 to the reserves last year which is not that significant on income of £273,249

 

Sounds like quite a bit overall though? Not really, it would cover us for about 2.5 months if we lost any significant income streams and we also owe £244k loan we borrowed to do up the building.

 

How much would we like ideally? This does change from time to time but a rough rule of thumb is 6 months running costs which is ~£150k although to ensure more sustainability we should look to pay down the loan as soon as possible. Over the next 3-5 years if we can grow the reserves and reduce the loan through capital payments they might be at a similar level which would give us more financial stability. 

 

Ultimately the reserves are to further the objectives of the charity which means striking a balance between spending money doing stuff now and saving money to ensure any blips don't stop you doing stuff in the long term. It is not to stockpile cash and do nothing with but on the other hand running out of money can be incredibly disruptive and we want to avoid that.

 

What are the key take away figures from the Independent Examination?

 

We had income of  ~£273k which was ~£40k more than the year before

We now have ~£230k of value (balance sheet)

Of that ~£230k value, ~£64k is cash in the bank, £122k is the building value and ~£44k is project money

 

 

How much money did we get in and what did we spend it on?

 

So we know we got ~£40k more income than the previous year.

 

We had ~£50k more in grants this year, £14k more rental income and £13k more in Training income but no large donation like the previous year only £3,766 relating to gift aid from the previous years donation which is about what the overall profit was for the year

 

All the restricted income is within the 'charitable activities' section as the restrictions are usually by funders. 55% of the income was restricted which is higher than 44% in the previous year but this is merley a reflection of the grants like for like growth being significantly higher compared to the other unresricted streams growth. This is still much lower than a historical average well above 90% and we continue to work hard diversifying and growing non-grant income to become more sustainable in the long term.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Safeguarding Vulnerable Adults Policy

Safer Spaces statement

As a safe and welcoming space we expect everyone in the building to:

Respect other people and to treat them equally

Be sensitive to the needs of others

Be friendly and helpful

 

We will not tolerate:

Intimidation and harassment of any kind

Racism, sexism, homophobia and any other form of discrimination and prejudice

Violence or the threat of violence

The theft of other people’s belongings

 

We will do our best to make the space as safe as possible.
Let us know about any problems

 

If anyone is being abusive, offensive, disruptive or insensitive, we will let them know clearly. If they don’t stop, we will ask them to leave. If they respond with hostility or threatening behaviour, they will be banned from the centre for at least a month. 

 

Staff Grievance Policy

0.1. Grievances are concerns, problems or complaints that employees raise with their employers. Issues that may cause grievances include:

  • terms and conditions of employment
  • health and safety
  • work relations
  • bullying and harassment
  • new working practices
  • working environment
  • organisational change
  • discrimination

 

1.0 General

1.1 Introduction

This grievance procedure exists to ensure that any issues that an employee might wish to raise are dealt with as quickly and effectively as possible. It is the right of any employee to initiate the grievance procedure.

If an alleged breach of discipline by another employee is raised as a grievance and the allegation is upheld through the grievance procedure, it may be appropriate to refer the matter to the normal disciplinary procedure. The content of the disciplinary procedure will be subject to the normal constraints of confidentiality.

All meetings will be held in private and the need for confidentiality must be respected at all stages.

1.2 Companion

Staff involved in a grievance (either as the person making the grievance or any person implicated in the complaint) have the right to consult and be accompanied (or represented) by, a staff representative or their trade union official or, especially where there are conflicting interests, any other mutually acceptable companion.\

There is no duty on a fellow worker to accept a request to accompany a work colleague and no
pressure should be brought to bear on a person if they do not wish to act as a companion.
A worker who has been requested to accompany a colleague and has agreed to do so will be
permitted to take a reasonable amount of paid time off to fulfil this responsibility. Oblong will also
allow a reasonable amount of time off for the accompanying person to confer with the worker before
and after the hearing.
1.3 Time limits
Time limits may be extended where necessary. Where they are extended, clear reasons for the delay
(e.g. holiday, sickness, further investigation) must be recorded. The employee shall be informed in
writing of the reason for the delay and of the proposed new timescale or arrangements.
Delay may be justified in particular if:
a) any of the parties to a grievance hearing, including the nominated companion, are unable to
attend at the mutually agreed time. In this case the meeting may be postponed at least once to
another time to suit all parties. In the event of sickness of the person making the grievance or the
person designated to hear the grievance, the meeting may be postponed for up to 4 weeks.
b) the investigating officer decides that in order to action stages of the procedure more time is
necessary to conduct a proper investigation.
1.4 Investigation
All employees are required to contribute to any investigation where requested. In exceptional
circumstances, witness statements may be submitted in confidence with the identity of the person
protected from the person making the grievance and other members of staff; however, staff should
be aware that if the matter is progressed to a disciplinary action, then the full content of all witness
statements may be disclosed in order to allow the person under investigation to defend themselves.
Normally the Investigating Officer will be an appointed board member or other person appointed to
hear the grievance. Alternatively, where appropriate and with the agreement of the board of Trustees,
an Investigating Officer may be appointed who is an external party brought in for the purposes of
conducting the investigation.
1.5 Suspension
In extreme cases where there are reasonable grounds for believing that the continued presence at
the place of work of an employee connected with the grievance will be detrimental to the progress of
the grievance procedure, the progress of any investigation and/or the continued working of the
organisation, that employee may be suspended on full pay while the case is investigated.
No member of staff or member of the Trustee board may take part in this procedure if they are
involved in the grievance.

 

2. Procedure

2.1 Informal stage
The employee should first attempt to resolve any grievance through discussion with the other staff
members directly. They can also relate through the monthly peer management sessions any issues
concerned. Staff members can raise any issues they feel they can't address with colleagues directly
with their supervisor. If this does not resolve the matter, the formal grievance procedure should be
followed.
2.2 Stage 1 (written grievance)
The employee bringing the grievance should put it in writing, stating explicitly that s/he is making a
formal grievance. The grievance statement will give the details of the problem, those involved, the
names of any witnesses and any appropriate additional information, e.g. suggestions of how the
matter could be resolved. The statement must be signed and dated and sent to the Chair given
normal circumstances, within 2 weeks of the incident causing the grievance occurring.
The grievance will be investigated by the appointed investigating officer (board member not the
Chair) who will call a grievance meeting within 2 weeks of receipt of the grievance where possible.
The employee bringing the grievance will be informed s/he has the right to consult with prior to and
be represented at this meeting by the staff representative, a trade union representative or a
mutually agreed companion. The employee should inform the panel in advance whom they have
chosen. Date, time and venue of the meeting will be arranged by mutual agreement, including that
of the employee’s companion where this is requested. The investigating officer should ensure that
there is a third party present to take confidential notes of the proceedings. These will be distributed
to all attendees after the meeting.
The person hearing the grievance must establish the nature and extent of the grievance and attempt
to find a mutually acceptable resolution to the issue.
After the meeting, the investigating officer will respond in writing to the grievance under normal
circumstances, within 2 weeks of the meeting stating proposed action and informing the employee of
their right of appeal at Stage 2.
In the event of any of the participants in the grievance hearing being unable to attend at the
mutually agreed time, the meeting may be postponed once to another time to suit all parties. In the
event of sickness of the person making the grievance or the person designated to hear the grievance,
the meeting may be postponed for up to 4 weeks.
2.3 Stage 2 (Appeal)
If the employee is dissatisfied with a response or decision at Stage 1, they may appeal in writing,
giving the grounds for the appeal, to the Chair of the Board of Trustees within 2 weeks of receiving
the response.
The Chair of the Board of Trustees will agree an Appeal Panel of 2 Trustees which shall include the
Chair. This panel shall hear the appeal within 2 weeks of receiving it.
The employee bringing the grievance will be informed s/he has the right to consult with prior to and
be represented at this appeal by the staff representative, a trade union representative or a mutually
agreed companion. The employee should inform the panel in advance whom they have chosen. The
Appeal panel should ensure that there is a third party present to take confidential notes of the
proceedings. The date, time and venue of the meeting will be arranged by mutual agreement.
In the event of any of the participants in the grievance hearing being unable to attend at the
mutually agreed time, the meeting may be postponed once to another time to suit all parties. In the
event of sickness of the person making the appeal, the meeting may be postponed for up to 4 weeks.
The appeal panel will appoint a minute taker to take an appropriate record of the appeal. A copy will
be distributed to all attendees.
Following the appeal meeting, a decision in writing will be given within 2 weeks stating the decision
of the appeal panel and the action, if any, it intends to take
The decision of the Appeal Panel of the Board of Trustees is final and no further appeal will be
accepted.

 

3. Overlapping grievance and disciplinary cases

Where an employee raises a grievance during a disciplinary process the disciplinary process may be
temporarily suspended in order to deal with the grievance. Where the grievance and disciplinary
cases are related it may be appropriate to deal with both issues concurrently.
A disciplinary procedure may not itself be the subject of a grievance until the disciplinary procedure
is completed, unless there is an accusation of unlawful harassment or of unlawful discrimination.
Date Agreed by [Board of Trustees] 15/04/14
Review date Q1 2015/16

 

4. Relevant Legislation

  •  

 

5. Related Policies

  • Written Statement of Employment Particulars
  • Disciplinary Policy
  • Relevant legislation
  • Employment Rights Act 1996
  • Equality Act 2010
  • The Employment Relations Act 1999
  • The Employment Act 2002 (Dispute Resolution) Regulations 2004
  • The ACAS Code of Practice on Disciplinary and Grievance Procedures

Ratified 15/04/2014 by Trustees

This policy was based on the Pay and Employment Rights Service (PERS) Grievance Policy, model policy, dated December 13.

GDPR / Data Protection Policy

0. Introduction 

Oblong Ltd is committed to protecting the rights and freedoms of data subjects and safely and securely processing their data in accordance with all our legal obligations. 

We hold personal data about our employees, volunteers, clients, suppliers and other individuals for a variety of business purposes. 

This policy sets out how we seek to protect personal data and ensure that our staff and volunteers understand the rules governing their use of the personal data to which they have access during their work 

This policy requires staff to ensure that the Data Protection Officer (DPO) be consulted before any significant new data processing activity is initiated to ensure that relevant compliance steps are addressed. 

Failure to observe this policy, or the misuse of personal data is a disciplinary offence and may even constitute and criminal offence.

0.1. Definitions 

0.1.1. Business Purposes

Business purposes may include any of the following: -

  • Personnel, administrative, financial, regulatory, payroll and business development purposes. 

  • Compliance with our legal, regulatory and corporate governance obligations and good practice 

  • Gathering information as part of investigations by regulatory bodies or in connection with legal proceedings or requests 

  • Ensuring business policies are adhered to (such as policies covering email and internet use)

  • Operational reasons, such as recording transactions, training and quality control, ensuring the confidentiality of commercially sensitive information, security vetting, credit scoring and checking

  • Investigating complaints 

  • Checking references, sharing data internally for recruitment purposes, ensuring safe working practices, monitoring and managing staff access to systems and facilities and staff absences, administration and assessments 

  • Monitoring staff conduct, disciplinary matters –

  • Marketing our business - Improving services 

0.1.2. Personal data ‘Personal data’ means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.

Personal data we gather may include: individuals' phone number, email address, educational background, financial and pay details, details of certificates and diplomas, education and skills, marital status, nationality, job title, and CV. 

0.1.2.1. Personal Information relating to staff

Oblong holds information about employees to do with their working life in order to fulfil its responsibilities as an employer. Personal information is also held about Trustees. Much of this information is highly personal and Oblong recognises its duty to safeguard the data by all means possible and to notify staff about what is kept and why, along with information about how the data can be accessed and by whom.

0.1.2.1.1. Information held by Oblong will include:

  • Information relating to recruitment and selection such as application forms;     shortlisting and interview assessments; references; proof of eligibility to work in the UK; where relevant, unspent criminal records and/or the outcome of Criminal Record Bureau/ Disclosure and Barring investigations.

  • Personal details of home address, phone number, next of kin.

  • Information necessary for payment of salaries, such as bank details, national     insurance number, details of deductions to e.g. the courts or trade unions, expenses claims.

  • Information about academic and vocational qualifications and experience.

  • Notes of probationary and annual reviews and supervisions.

  • Sick notes, and medical assessments, including information relating to disabilities.

  • Absence records, including sickness absence, compassionate leave, unauthorised absences.

  • Time sheets and holiday sheets.

  • Details of grievance and disciplinary proceedings including current warnings (within the timescales allowed by the appropriate policies).

  • Reference requests and responses.

0.1.2.1.2. Purpose of keeping this data

The data kept on staff is primarily in relation to their employment with Oblong.

This data will be used for the purpose of administering and managing their employment. Information about Trustees is held for registration with the Charity Commission and Companies House and for some funding applications. 

Personal information about employees and volunteers may also be kept for the purposes of applying for funding, obtaining insurance or responding to requests for information from Government offices, the Charity Commissioners or other reputable bodies.

Where possible, sensitive information will not be tied to individuals but will be given in anonymised statistical formats only.

0.1.2.1.3. Oblong will seek consent from staff and volunteers to use some personal information on an ongoing basis, including names and photographs, to be published in e.g. newsletters, annual reports, publicity leaflets or the organisation’s website.

This information will not include home or personal contact details.
Individual staff email addresses will be avoided unless necessary.

Staff may request that all or any personal information and/or photographs are restricted to internal access and this request should be complied with.

0.1.3. Special categories of personal data 

Special categories of data include information about an individual's racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious or similar beliefs, trade union membership (or non-membership), physical or mental health or condition, criminal offences, or related proceedings, and genetic and biometric information —any use of special categories of personal data should be strictly controlled in accordance with this policy. 

0.1.4. Data controller 

‘Data controller’ means the natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which, alone or jointly with others, determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data; where the purposes and means of such processing are determined by law. 

0.1.5. Data processor

 ‘Processor’ means a natural or legal person, public authority, agency or other body which processes personal data on behalf of the controller. 

0.1.6. Processing

‘Processing’ means any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction. 

0.1.7. Supervisory authority

This is the national body responsible for data protection. The supervisory authority for our organisation is the Information Commissioner's Office, with which Oblong Ltd is registered - ref Z9991536.

 

0.2. Scope 

This policy relates to the protection of the privacy of staff volunteers, job applicants trustees service users and any other person about whom Oblong Ltd hold identifiable information os a formal or informal nature.

This policy applies to all staff, who must be familiar with this policy and comply with its terms. 

This policy supplements our other policies relating to internet and email use. We may supplement or amend this policy by additional policies and guidelines from time to time.

Any new or modified policy will be circulated to staff & trustees before being adopted. 

0.3. Who is responsible for this policy? 

As our Data Protection Officer (DPO), Jess Fishenden has overall responsibility for the day-to-day implementation of this policy. You should contact the DPO for further information about this policy if necessary. 

Jess Fishenden - jessf@oblong.org.uk
Other contact details available internally

 

1. The principles 

Oblong Ltd shall comply with the principles of data protection (the Principles) enumerated in the EU General Data Protection Regulation. We will make every effort possible in everything we do to comply with these principles. 

1.1. The Principles are: 

1.1.1. Lawful, fair and transparent 

Data collection must be fair, for a legal purpose and we must be open and transparent as to how the data will be used. 

1.1.2. Limited for its purpose 

Data can only be collected for a specific purpose. 

1.1.3. Data minimisation 

Any data collected must be necessary and not excessive for its purpose. 

1.1.4. Accurate 

The data we hold must be accurate and kept up to date. 

1.1.5. Retention 

We cannot store data longer than necessary. 

1.1.6. Integrity and confidentiality 

The data we hold must be kept safe and secure. 

 

1.2. Accountability and transparency 

We must ensure accountability and transparency in all our use of personal data. We must show how we comply with each Principle. You are responsible for keeping a written record of how all the data processing activities you are responsible for comply with each of the Principles. This must be kept up to date and must be approved by the DPO. 

To comply with data protection laws and the accountability and transparency Principle of GDPR, we must demonstrate compliance. You are responsible for understanding your responsibilities to ensure we meet the following data protection obligations: 

  • Fully implement all appropriate technical and organisational measures 

  • Maintain up to date and relevant documentation on all processing activities 

  • Conducting Data Protection Impact Assessments 

  • Implement measures to ensure privacy by design and default, including: 

    • Data minimisation

    • Pseudonymisation

    • Transparency

    • Allowing individuals to monitor processing

    • Creating and improving security and enhanced privacy procedures on an ongoing basis

2. Our procedures 

2.1. Fair and lawful processing 

We must process personal data fairly and lawfully in accordance with individuals’ rights under the first Principle. This generally means that we should not process personal data unless the individual whose details we are processing has consented to this happening. 

If we cannot apply a lawful basis (explained below), our processing does not conform to the first principle and will be unlawful. Data subjects have the right to have any data unlawfully processed erased 

2.1.1. Controlling vs. processing data 

Oblong Ltd is classified as both a data controller and a data processor. We must maintain our appropriate registration with the Information Commissioner's Office to continue lawfully controlling and processing data. 

2.1.1.1. As a data processor, we must comply with our contractual obligations and act only on the documented instructions of the data controller. If we at any point determine the purpose and means of processing out with the instructions of the controller, we shall be considered a data controller and therefore breach our contract with the controller and have the same liability as the controller. 

2.1.1.2. As a data processor, we must: 

  • Not use a sub-processor without written authorisation of the data controller 

  • Co-operate fully with the ICO or other supervisory authority 

  • Ensure the security of the processing 

  • Keep accurate records of processing activities 

  • Notify the controller of any personal data breaches 

If you are in any doubt about how we handle data, contact the DPO for clarification. 

 

2.2. Lawful basis for processing data 

We must establish a lawful basis for processing data. Ensure that any data you are responsible for managing has a written lawful basis approved by the DPO. It is your responsibility to check the lawful basis for any data you are working with and ensure all your actions comply the lawful basis. At least one of the following conditions must apply whenever we process personal data: 

2.2.1. Consent 

We hold recent, clear, explicit, and defined consent for the individual’s data to be processed for a specific purpose. 

2.2.2. Contract 

The processing is necessary to fulfil or prepare a contract for the individual. 

2.2.3. Legal obligation 

We have a legal obligation to process the data (excluding a contract). 

2.2.4. Vital interests 

Processing the data is necessary to protect a person’s life or in a medical situation. 

2.2.5. Public function 

Processing necessary to carry out a public function, a task of public interest or the function has a clear basis in law. 

2.2.6. Legitimate interest 

The processing is necessary for our legitimate interests. This condition does not apply if there is a good reason to protect the individual’s personal data which overrides the legitimate interest. 

 

2.3. Deciding which condition to rely on 

If you are assessing the lawful basis, you must first establish that the processing is necessary. This means the processing must be a targeted, appropriate way of achieving the stated purpose. You cannot rely on a lawful basis if you can reasonable achieve the same purpose by some other means. 

Remember that more than one basis may apply, and you should rely on what will best fit the purpose, not what is easiest. 

Consider the following factors and document your answers: 

  • What is the purpose for processing the data? 

  • Can it reasonably be done in a different way? 

  • Is there a choice as to whether to process the data? 

  • Who does the processing benefit? 

  • After selecting the lawful basis, is this the same as the lawful basis the data subject would expect? 

  • What is the impact of the processing on the individual? 

  • Are you in a position of power over them? 

  • Are they a vulnerable person? 

  • Would they be likely to object to the processing? 

  • Are you able to stop the processing at any time on request, and have you factored in how to do this? 

Our commitment to the first Principle requires us to document this process and show that we have considered which lawful basis best applies to each processing purpose, and fully justify these decisions. 

We must also ensure that individuals whose data is being processed by us are informed of the lawful basis for processing their data, as well as the intended purpose. This should occur via a privacy notice. This applies whether we have collected the data directly from the individual, or from another source. 

If you are responsible for assessing the lawful basis and implementing the privacy notice for the processing activity, you must have this approved by the DPO. 

 

2.4. Special categories of personal data 

What are special categories of personal data? 

Previously known as sensitive personal data, this means data about an individual which is more sensitive, so requires more protection. This type of data could create more significant risks to a person’s fundamental rights and freedoms, for example by putting them at risk of unlawful discrimination. The special categories include information about an individual’s: 

  • race 

  • ethnic origin 

  • politics 

  • religion 

  • trade union membership 

  • genetics 

  • biometrics (where used for ID purposes) 

  • health 

  • sexual orientation 

In most cases where we process special categories of personal data we will require the data subject's explicit consent to do this unless exceptional circumstances apply, or we are required to do this by law (e.g. to comply with legal obligations to ensure health and safety at work). Any such consent will need to clearly identify what the relevant data is, why it is being processed and to whom it will be disclosed. 

The condition for processing special categories of personal data must comply with the law. If we do not have a lawful basis for processing special categories of data that processing activity must cease. 

 

2.4. Responsibilities 

2.4.1. Our responsibilities 

  • Analysing and documenting the type of personal data we hold 

  • Checking procedures to ensure they cover all the rights of the individual 

  • Identify the lawful basis for processing data 

  • Ensuring consent procedures are lawful 

  • Implementing and reviewing procedures to detect, report and investigate personal data breaches 

  • Store data in safe and secure ways 

  • Assess the risk that could be posed to individual rights and freedoms should data be compromised 

2.4.2. Your responsibilities 

  • Fully understand your data protection obligations 

  • Check that any data processing activities you are dealing with comply with our policy and are justified 

  • Do not use data in any unlawful way 

  • Do not store data incorrectly, be careless with it or otherwise cause us to breach data protection laws and our policies through your actions 

  • Comply with this policy always 

  • Raise any concerns, notify any breaches or errors, and report anything suspicious or contradictory to this policy or our legal obligations without delay 

2.4.3. Responsibilities of the Data Protection Officer 

  • Keeping the board updated about data protection responsibilities, risks and issues 

  • Reviewing all data protection procedures and policies on a regular basis 

  • Arranging data protection training and advice for all staff members and those included in this policy 

  • Answering questions on data protection from staff, board members and other stakeholders 

  • Responding to individuals such as clients and employees who wish to know which data is being held on them by us 

  • Checking and approving with third parties that handle the company’s data any contracts or agreement regarding data processing 

2.4.4. Responsibilities of other members of staff with delegated specialisations 

  • Ensure all systems, services, software and equipment meet acceptable security standards 

  • Checking and scanning security hardware and software regularly to ensure it is functioning properly 

  • Researching third-party services, such as cloud services the company is considering using to store or process data 

  • Approving data protection statements attached to emails and other marketing copy 

  • Addressing data protection queries from clients, target audiences or media outlets 

  • Coordinating with the DPO to ensure all marketing initiatives adhere to data protection laws and the company’s Data Protection Policy 

 

2.5. Accuracy and relevance 

We will ensure that any personal data we process is accurate, adequate, relevant and not excessive, given the purpose for which it was obtained. We will not process personal data obtained for one purpose for any unconnected purpose unless the individual concerned has agreed to this or would otherwise reasonably expect this. 

Individuals may ask that we correct inaccurate personal data relating to them. If you believe that information is inaccurate you should record the fact that the accuracy of the information is disputed and inform the DPO. 

 

2.6. Data security 

You must keep personal data secure against loss or misuse. Where other organisations process personal data as a service on our behalf, the DPO will establish what, if any, additional specific data security arrangements need to be implemented in contracts with those third-party organisations. 

2.6.1. Storing data securely 

· In cases when data is stored on printed paper, it should be kept in a secure place where unauthorised personnel cannot access it 

  • Printed data should be shredded when it is no longer needed 

  • Data stored on a computer should be protected by strong passwords that are changed regularly. We encourage all staff to use a password manager to create and store their passwords. 

  • Avoid storing data on CDs or memory sticks. If done, must be encrypted or password protected and locked away securely when they are not being used.

  • The DPO must approve any cloud used to store data 

  • Servers containing personal data must be kept in a secure location, away from general office space 

  • Data should be regularly backed up in line with the company’s backup procedures 

  • Data should never be saved directly to mobile devices such as laptops, tablets or smartphones - use directly from approved cloud provider when possible.

  • Any servers containing sensitive data must be approved and protected by security software 

  • All possible technical measures must be put in place to keep data secure 

2.6.2. Data retention 

We must retain personal data for no longer than is necessary. What is necessary will depend on the circumstances of each case, considering the reasons that the personal data was obtained, but should be determined in a manner consistent with our data retention guidelines. 

2.6.3. Transferring data internationally 

There are restrictions on international transfers of personal data. You must not transfer personal data abroad, or anywhere else outside of normal rules and procedures without express permission from the DPO. 

2.6.4. Rights of individuals 

Individuals have rights to their data which we must respect and comply with to the best of our ability. We must ensure individuals can exercise their rights in the following ways: 

2.6.4.1. Right to be informed 

  • Providing privacy notices which are concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible, free of charge, that are written in clear and plain language, particularly if aimed at children. 

  • Keeping a record of how we use personal data to demonstrate compliance with the need for accountability and transparency. 

2.6.4.2. Right of access 

  • Enabling individuals to access their personal data and supplementary information 

  • Allowing individuals to be aware of and verify the lawfulness of the processing activities 

2.6.4.3. Right to rectification 

  • We must rectify or amend the personal data of the individual if requested because it is inaccurate or incomplete. 

  • This must be done without delay, and no later than one month. This can be extended to two months with permission from the DPO. 

2.6.4.4. Right to erasure 

  • We must delete or remove an individual’s data if requested and there is no compelling reason for its continued processing. 

2.6.4.5. Right to restrict processing 

  • We must comply with any request to restrict, block, or otherwise suppress the processing of personal data. 

  • We are permitted to store personal data if it has been restricted, but not process it further. We must retain enough data to ensure the right to restriction is respected in the future. 

2.6.4.6. Right to data portability 

  • We must provide individuals with their data so that they can reuse it for their own purposes or across different services. 

  • We must provide it in a commonly used, machine-readable format, and send it directly to another controller if requested. 

2.6.4.7. Right to object 

  • We must respect the right of an individual to object to data processing based on legitimate interest or the performance of a public interest task. 

  • We must respect the right of an individual to object to direct marketing, including profiling. 

  • We must respect the right of an individual to object to processing their data for scientific and historical research and statistics. 

2.6.4.8. Rights in relation to automated decision making and profiling 

  • We must respect the rights of individuals in relation to automated decision making and profiling. 

  • Individuals retain their right to object to such automated processing, have the rationale explained to them, and request human intervention. 

 

2.7. Privacy notices 

2.7.1. When to supply a privacy notice 

A privacy notice must be supplied at the time the data is obtained if obtained directly from the data subject. If the data is not obtained directly from the data subject, the privacy notice must be provided within a reasonable period of having obtained the data, which mean within one month. 

If the data is being used to communicate with the individual, then the privacy notice must be supplied at the latest when the first communication takes place. 

If disclosure to another recipient is envisaged, then the privacy notice must be supplied prior to the data being disclosed. 

2.7.2. What to include in a privacy notice 

Privacy notices must be concise, transparent, intelligible and easily accessible. They are provided free of charge and must be written in clear and plain language, particularly if aimed at children 

The following information must be included in a privacy notice to all data subjects: 

  • Identification and contact information of the data controller and the data protection officer 

  • The purpose of processing the data and the lawful basis for doing so 

  • The legitimate interests of the controller or third party, if applicable 

  • The right to withdraw consent at any time, if applicable 

  • The category of the personal data (only for data not obtained directly from the data subject) 

  • Any recipient or categories of recipients of the personal data 

  • Detailed information of any transfers to third countries and safeguards in place 

  • The retention period of the data or the criteria used to determine the retention period, including details for the data disposal after the retention period 

  • The right to lodge a complaint with the ICO, and internal complaint procedures 

  • The source of the personal data, and whether it came from publicly available sources (only for data not obtained directly from the data subject) 

  • Any existence of automated decision making, including profiling and information about how those decisions are made, their significances and consequences to the data subject 

  • Whether the provision of personal data is part of a statutory of contractual requirement or obligation and possible consequences for any failure to provide the data (only for data obtained directly from the data subject) 

2.8. Subject Access Requests 

2.8.1. What is a subject access request? 

An individual has the right to receive confirmation that their data is being processed, access to their personal data and supplementary information which means the information which should be provided in a privacy notice. 

2.8.2. How we deal with subject access requests 

We must provide an individual with a copy of the information the request, free of charge. This must occur without delay, and within one month of receipt. We endeavour to provide data subjects access to their information in commonly used electronic formats, and where possible, provide direct access to the information through a remote accessed secure system. 

If complying with the request is complex or numerous, the deadline can be extended by two months, but the individual must be informed within one month. You must obtain approval from the DPO before extending the deadline. 

We can refuse to respond to certain requests, and can, in circumstances of the request being manifestly unfounded or excessive, charge a fee. If the request is for a large quantity of data, we can request the individual specify the information they are requesting. This can only be done with express permission from the DPO. 

Once a subject access request has been made, you must not change or amend any of the data that has been requested. Doing so is a criminal offence. 

 

2.9. Other Data Requests

2.9.1. Data portability requests 

We must provide the data requested in a structured, commonly used and machine-readable format. This would normally be a CSV file, although other formats are acceptable. We must provide this data either to the individual who has requested it, or to the data controller they have requested it be sent to. This must be done free of charge and without delay, and no later than one month. This can be extended to two months for complex or numerous requests, but the individual must be informed of the extension within one month and you must receive express permission from the DPO first. 

2.9.2. Right to erasure 

2.9.2.1. What is the right to erasure? 

Individuals have a right to have their data erased and for processing to cease in the following circumstances: 

  • Where the personal data is no longer necessary in relation to the purpose for which it was originally collected and / or processed 

  • Where consent is withdrawn 

  • Where the individual objects to processing and there is no overriding legitimate interest for continuing the processing 

  • The personal data was unlawfully processed or otherwise breached data protection laws 

  • To comply with a legal obligation 

  • The processing relates to a child 

2.9.2.2. How we deal with the right to erasure 

We can only refuse to comply with a right to erasure in the following circumstances: 

  • To exercise the right of freedom of expression and information 

  • To comply with a legal obligation for the performance of a public interest task or exercise of official authority 

  • For public health purposes in the public interest 

  • For archiving purposes in the public interest, scientific research, historical research or statistical purposes 

  • The exercise or defence of legal claims 

If personal data that needs to be erased has been passed onto other parties or recipients, they must be contacted and informed of their obligation to erase the data. If the individual asks, we must inform them of those recipients. 

2.9.3. The right to object 

Individuals have the right to object to their data being used on grounds relating to their situation. We must cease processing unless: 

  • We have legitimate grounds for processing which override the interests, rights and freedoms of the individual. 

  • The processing relates to the establishment, exercise or defence of legal claims. 

We must always inform the individual of their right to object at the first point of communication, i.e. in the privacy notice. We must offer a way for individuals to object online. 

2.9.4. The right to restrict automated profiling or decision making 

We may only carry out automated profiling or decision making that has a legal or similarly significant effect on an individual in the following circumstances: 

  • It is necessary for the entry into or performance of a contract. 

  • Based on the individual’s explicit consent. 

  • Otherwise authorised by law. 

In these circumstances, we must: 

  • Give individuals detailed information about the automated processing. 

  • Offer simple ways for them to request human intervention or challenge any decision about them. 

  • Carry out regular checks and user testing to ensure our systems are working as intended. 

 

2.10. Third parties 

Using third party controllers and processors 

2.10.1. As a data controller and data processor, we must have written contracts in place with any third party [data controllers (and/or) data processors] that we use. The contract must contain specific clauses which set out our and their liabilities, obligations and responsibilities. 

2.10.2. As a data controller, we must only appoint processors who can provide sufficient guarantees under GDPR and that the rights of data subjects will be respected and protected. 

2.10.3. As a data processor, we must only act on the documented instructions of a controller. We acknowledge our responsibilities as a data processor under GDPR and we will protect and respect the rights of data subjects. 

 

2.11. Contracts 

Our contracts must comply with the standards set out by the ICO and, where possible, follow the standard contractual clauses which are available. Our contracts with [data controllers (and/or) data processors] must set out the subject matter and duration of the processing, the nature and stated purpose of the processing activities, the types of personal data and categories of data subject, and the obligations and rights of the controller. 

At a minimum, our contracts must include terms that specify: 

  • Acting only on written instructions 

  • Those involved in processing the data are subject to a duty of confidence 

  • Appropriate measures will be taken to ensure the security of the processing 

  • Sub-processors will only be engaged with the prior consent of the controller and under a written contract 

  • The controller will assist the processor in dealing with subject access requests and allowing data subjects to exercise their rights under GDPR 

  • The processor will assist the controller in meeting its GDPR obligations in relation to the security of processing, notification of data breaches and implementation of Data Protection Impact Assessments 

  • Delete or return all personal data at the end of the contract 

  • Submit to regular audits and inspections and provide whatever information necessary for the controller and processor to meet their legal obligations. 

  • Nothing will be done by either the controller or processor to infringe on GDPR. 

2.12. Criminal offence data 

Criminal record checks 

Any criminal record checks are justified by law. Criminal record checks cannot be undertaken based solely on the consent of the subject. We cannot keep a comprehensive register of criminal offence data. 

Criminal record checks will be done through an approved 3rd party provider. All data relating to criminal offences is a special category of personal data and must be treated as such. 

2.13. Audits, monitoring and training 

2.13.1. Data audits 

Regular data audits to manage and mitigate risks will inform the data register. This contains information on what data is held, where it is stored, how it is used, who is responsible and any further regulations or retention timescales that may be relevant. You must conduct a regular data audit as defined by the DPO and normal procedures. 

2.13.2. Monitoring 

Everyone must observe this policy. The DPO has overall responsibility for this policy. Oblong Ltd will keep this policy under review and amend or change it as required. You must notify the DPO of any breaches of this policy. You must comply with this policy fully and always. 

2.13.3. Training 

You will receive adequate training on provisions of data protection law specific for your role. You must complete all training as requested. If you move role or responsibilities, you are responsible for requesting new data protection training relevant to your new role or responsibilities. 

If you require additional training on data protection matters, contact the DPO. 

2.14. Reporting breaches 

2.14.0.1. Any breach of this policy or of data protection laws must be reported as soon as practically possible. This means as soon as you have become aware of a breach. Oblong Ltd has a legal obligation to report any data breaches to the Information Commissioner within 72 hours

2.14.0.2. All members of staff have an obligation to report actual or potential data protection compliance failures. This allows us to: 

  • Investigate the failure and take remedial steps if necessary 

  • Maintain a register of compliance failures 

  • Notify the ICO of any compliance failures that are material either or as part of a pattern of failures 

2.14.0.3. Any member of staff who fails to notify of a breach or is found to have known or suspected a breach has occurred but has not followed the correct reporting procedures will be liable to disciplinary action. 

2.14.1. Breaches should be reported to the named DPO in the first instance.
Evidence of breach should be preserved if doing so does not risk further breach.

2.14.2. Report of breach can be done by email, telephone or other private means as appropriate to urgency, however should be backed up by a physical written statement that is signed and dated, handed to named DPO (or delegated party) at first opportunity.

2.14.2.1. Written statement should include all relevant details to provide context for later audit of how breach has been dealt with.

2.14.2. Failure to comply 

We take compliance with this policy very seriously. Failure to comply puts both you and the organisation at risk. 

The importance of this policy means that failure to comply with any requirement may lead to disciplinary action under our procedures which may result in dismissal. 

If you have any questions or concerns about anything in this policy, do not hesitate to contact the named DPO. 

2.15. Staff Obligations

Oblong is the Registered Data Controller and is responsible for notification to the Information Commissioner (http://ico.org.uk/). S/he should be deferred to with any questions relating to data protection or confidentiality. However, all staff are responsible for ensuring compliance with this policy. They must:

  • Ensure that they have read and understood this policy as it relates to them.

  • Ensure that data which they supply or for which they are responsible is up-to-date, accurate, fair and relevant to its purpose, including information about themselves. Staff must notify the organisation of any changes in circumstance to enable the organisation to update personnel records accordingly.

  • Not keep any records on other individuals (whether other employees or clients/service users) which are unnecessary, incorrect or which contain unfounded opinion or speculation.

  • Not share personal information about other members of staff or clients/service users (e.g. sickness, personal circumstances), that they know as a result of handling confidential information (e.g. sick notes, application forms) or which is disclosed in confidential settings (e.g. supervision or counselling), without that person’s unambiguous agreement.     

  • Keep data secure. Paper and external computer files must be locked up, computers must be password protected; laptops and computer disks containing personal information, open computer screens, or open paper files must not be left unattended.

  • Not disclose, share or transfer outside the organisation any personal information relating to other staff, volunteers, trustees, or clients/service users without the explicit consent of the individual concerned.

  • Dispose of personal data safely. Paper notes and records must be shredded or     disposed of as ‘confidential waste’. Hard drives of redundant PCs must be destroyed or wiped clean before disposal.

 

Particular care must be taken where personal data is processed ‘off-site’, at home or in other locations. This presents a greater risk of loss, damage or theft and staff must take appropriate security precautions.

2.14.1. These obligations, and the associated risks are collected in a working document entitled [Oblong Ltd - Data Protection Assessment] to be made available on shared drive or similar.

2.15. Monitoring of Staff Activity

Staff should be aware that Oblong may, if they have reason to do so, monitor use of the internet and/or emails. Private emails will never be opened intentionally but staff should be aware of the possibility of accidental access and of the right of staff to question and investigate private use. 

Deliberate monitoring will only take place where there is good reason to suspect a disciplinary offence or another justified concern. 

Performance and quality control monitoring will be overt and for a clear purpose. Covert monitoring will not be permitted.

2.16. Guidelines for disclosing information to internal and external sources

2.16.1. Internal information sharing

Oblong recognises that Trustees, staff and volunteers may need to share personal information with others internally within Oblong. This might include, for instance, discussion of client issues during supervision, discussion of situations to gain experience and opinion from colleagues, ‘on the job’ training. Care must be taken that this kind of information sharing is not done publicly or where it can be overheard. Such conversations should wherever possible be held without explicitly identifying the individual or organisation under discussion.

2.16.2. Supervision

Supervision sessions are in general confidential to the supervisor and the Oblong staff member.

Ground rules for when and why confidentiality may be broken should be agreed at the start of a supervision relationship and might include, for instance:

  • information about the progress of work against funding targets

  • complex or problematic case management

  • discussion of the implications for colleagues of a request for flexible working

  • some information to colleagues about personal circumstances which are     temporarily affecting performance

  • discussion of grievances or concerns about performance with a peer manager

Wherever possible, agreement about any breach of confidentiality should be reached in advance of the disclosure taking place.

Although the supervisor is bound by confidentiality, it is helpful for the supervisee to inform the supervisor if there are any personal circumstances which are particularly sensitive.

2.16.3. Answering requests for personal staff information

Personal information about a colleague should not usually be discussed with other staff or people outside Oblong without that person’s permission. Personal details including address and phone number, health matters or personal circumstances may not be passed on without explicit consent.

It is usually safe to reveal a colleague’s work contact (telephone and email address) in response to an enquiry regarding a work function, although these details should not be given to someone wishing to contact a colleague on a non-work related matter.

However, staff must not reveal personal details of other staff members to unknown or unverified external sources, even where these claim to be family members, friends, Government bodies or the police.

2.16.3.1. Strategies to deal with such enquiries could include:

Asking     the enquirer to put their query in writing or into an email, if appropriate backed up by documentary evidence to support the request.

Informing the enquirer that a message will be passed on, either asking the person to contact the enquirer directly or agreeing to pass on a sealed envelope/incoming email message to the person.

Telling     the enquirer that you will phone back once you have collected/verified the information required.

2.17. Organisational information

Trustees, staff and volunteers are bound by confidentiality in all matters relating to the internal affairs of Oblong. Confidential information concerning Board meetings, staff meetings, finances, recruitment, planning etc should not be disclosed outside the organisation unless authorisation is given to do so. This does not apply to disclosures made under the Public Interest Disclosure Act (‘whistle blowing’). 

No statements concerning internal matters or policy may be made to the media without the express permission of staff.

3. Personal information relating to service users

Oblong is committed to respecting the confidentiality of those who use and/or support its services. This means respecting the right of members, benefactors, beneficiaries and volunteers to privacy and their right to expect that any personal information they give us will not be discussed or passed on to anyone outside Oblong without their permission.

Please refer to ‘staff obligations’ above for general instructions on the collection, use, storage and disposal of all personal information associated with the Oblong.

3.1.  Information held by Oblong Ltd will include:

Personal or sensitive information could include names and addresses, membership details, medical and psychological conditions, financial status, employment status, living arrangements, criminal offences, and internal organisational issues/disputes. The information may be given in conversation or in written form, for example on an application/interview form or email.

3.2. Method of holding this information

Oblong keeps information on its clients/service users for the purposes of providing a service and meeting client needs.

3.2.1. Oblong will collect names and addresses, including email addresses, of volunteers for purposes of marketing our services or for quality control purposes.

This information will only be used for these purposes with the knowledge and consent of the data subject.

3.2.2. Oblong keeps information for applying for funding, monitoring how funds are spent and responding to request for information from Government offices, the Charity Commission and other reputable organisations. Statistical and depersonalised information may be used for campaigning purposes or publicity purposes.

3.2.3. No unrelated data will be kept and any sensitive data held by the organisation will be deleted at the request of the individual concerned.

3.2.4. Location of data

All personal data is kept in locked filing cabinets and/or in password protected computer file or password protected cloud based systems.

3.2.5. Recording and accessing information

Written records of any dealings with clients/service users may be made with the client’s permission if the purpose of such records is clearly explained to the client. Only essential information should be recorded and these records must be processed in line with Data Protection principles, stored securely and destroyed when no longer needed. Voluntary agreement to supply personal information such as names and addresses will be taken to imply consent to recording that information for Oblong necessary purposes. However, where practicable, data protection information will be given and explicit consent will be sought (or the opportunity to withdraw consent will be offered) on an appropriate letter or form.

3.3. Sharing information

3.3.1. Where client information is to be shared with a partner organisation or where Oblong is contacting a third party on the client’s behalf, the client must if possible and practicable confirm their agreement by giving signed authorisation.

3.3.2. Where funders require personal information about the beneficiaries of services for audit purposes, this information will be collected on forms which clearly indicate who will receive the information and include provision for service users to sign a consent declaration.

3.3.3. Personal information should not be conveyed to other organisations or individuals via telephone calls or faxes without adequate safeguards regarding confidentiality.

3.3.4. External requests for information about an individual should not be sanctioned. Where appropriate, staff may agree to pass on the request to that individual to respond to if they so choose. See advice above for strategies for dealing with requests for information from unknown or unverified enquirers.

3.3.5. Email communications may not be private – please see Oblongs policy on email and internet use. Consult DPO for guidance if needed.

3.3.6. Names or contact details should never be released to the media in response to requests for ‘case studies’. Media enquiries may, however, be passed on to service users so that they can choose whether or not to respond to them.

3.3.7. Statistical information may be used for research, monitoring and funding purposes but must not be attributable to an individual. Where, for publicity purposes, Oblong wishes to use an attributed quotation from a client or service user the individual’s express permission must be sought before this can used.

3.4. Collecting and safeguarding information

Oblong also recognises its duty to safeguard the information it holds on external groups and individuals. Oblong will regularly update information, dispose of outdated data and check that storage and archive systems are secure.

3.4.1. All written materials membership applications and packs, registration forms, newsletter forms, training application forms etc will be designed to ensure that only necessary data is being collected and that this is kept with permission.

3.4.2. If Oblong wishes to use personal information for purposes such as ‘direct marketing’ (e.g. of courses or new services on offer), the organisation will inform the person concerned at the time of collecting the data that it may be used for this purpose. People/organisations will be provided with the opportunity to opt out of being contacted in this way (e.g. by ticking an opt-out box on a form or email).

3.4.3. Mailing and membership lists will only be passed on to other organisations/individuals in order to comply with funding/legal requirements or with the express consent of those listed.

3.5. Exceptions

Oblong reserves the right to break confidentiality if it believes that:

  • a child is at risk of being harmed

  • a person’s life or safety is at risk

  • if required by statute (e.g. there is a legal obligation to report drug trafficking, money laundering, terrorist activity to the police)

  • if required under a contractual obligation (e.g. where services are purchased by a local authority and that contract requires disclosure of certain information)

  • if required by a court order

3.5.1. Information may also be disclosed if the individual concerned has given explicit, preferably written, consent.

In particular, maintaining the confidentiality of identifiable third parties in the course of a ‘subject access request’ will be considered on a case by case basis.

3.5.2. In all the above cases, the Chair must be informed immediately.

3.5.3. In other cases where breaking confidentiality may seem appropriate, this must only be done with the knowledge of appropriate managers or trustees and the person whose confidentiality is to be breached must be informed. They should be informed of their right of complaint and appeal using the appropriate grievance procedure.

4. Other Appendices

You may wish to include further listings here of internal contacts and/or external sources of further information and advice. For example: -

Information Commissioner
https://ico.org.uk/

https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/data-protection-reform/

 

Privacy Impact Assessments
https://ico.org.uk/media/for-organisations/documents/1595/pia-code-of-practice.pdf

 

Gov.UK have several pages devoted to Data Protection laws and allied regulations
https://www.gov.uk/data-protection/the-data-protection-act

ACAS guidance linking workplace issues and employment law to the Data Protection Act.
http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=3717

 

4.1. Other relevant policies & documents

It is also good practice to signpost and/or cross reference the policy with others in your corporate suite. This could include guidance on: -

  • Exit Interviews

  • IT Security

  • Lone Working

  • References

  • Social Media Use at Work

  • Oblong Ltd - Data Protection Assessment

 

Drafted and agreed by staff on           / / 20

 

Agreed by Board or Trustees on            / / 20

 

Executive Owner of Policy - Jess Fishenden or acting DPO.

To be reviewed May 2021