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When Norse Commercial Services and Medway Council formed the Joint Venture Company (JVC) Medway Norse on 1 June, the new partnership took on some 150 staff who had previously been employed in various catering, cleaning, caretaking and grounds and buildings maintenance roles with the Local Authority.
In this interview, Norse Human Resources Manager Gary Dallison explains why with the Medway Norse mobilisation, HR became more involved than usual.
What was unusual about the staffing structure at Medway?
GD: The staff worked at the 130-plus civic buildings and premises owned by the council and were directly responsible to managers in each location, rather than to line managers in a centralised department.
Whilst the labour force were able to TUPE over to the JVC, their supervision only constituted a small part of their managers roles and, as the other responsibilities and job activities these staff still existed within the council, the line managers were not eligible for TUPE transfer.
So what is the usual situation?
GD: We usually take over entire departments, such as cleaning or catering, which have an existing management structure so the line managers transfer over as well.
The fact that the various staff did not work for a specific department, but rather were employed by and were responsible to the individual premises, meant that in most cases, there was no existing line management we could bring into Medway Norse.
How involved does HR usually get in the formation of a new JVC?
GD: During mobilisation of any new JVC, the Human Resources department at Norse’s Head office in Norwich supports the Norse Service Director with regards to all aspects of the TUPE transfer of staff, both pre and post transfer.
This includes staff and trade union consultations, writing to employees about the transfer, dealing with all HR/Payroll related matters, and liaising with the existing employer’s HR and Payroll departments to make sure the new JVC has all the necessary due diligence information to ensure the staff transfer to Norse complies with TUPE legislation. The input from HR varies depending on the complexity of the transfer and the number of staff transferring.
Usually there is a manager or Service Director who manages the transfer and the mobilisation, including discussing the contractual details, service level agreements and operation requirements with the current employer pre-transfer, and then provides the service post-transfer. In the majority of cases some managers, supervisors and administrators transfer from the current employer to Norse and are involved in the entire process working together with the Norse manager.
Why did you as HR Manager become more involved on this occasion?
GD: I live in Kent and have worked for Norse for over nine years, so I know a lot of the people usually involved in mobilisation and have had experience with a number of new JVC formations. I was therefore seconded to the Medway Norse mobilisation team fulfilling the role of Mobilisation Project Team Leader.
I was therefore dealing with all operations aspects of setting up the new JVC and supporting the Norse Service Director who had has overall responsibility for the transfer. I worked closely with Medway Council on all areas of mobilisation and trained two managers and two admin staff that were recruited externally to become the Norse local management team.
Meday Norse recently recruited a new Operations Director, two Facilities Managers and a support team, enabling Dallison to step back and concentrate on post-transfer mobilisation HR issues.