Hertfordshire Council transfers staff to Serco in outsourcing deal

Nearly 20% of the HR team at Hertfordshire County Council transferred to facilities management and services firm Serco yesterday (10 August) in a new outsourcing deal, Personnel Today has learned.

Louise Harrington, assistant HR director at the council, said approximately 30 full-time payroll and administrative roles had moved under TUPE to the private sector employer, based in the same office. The council’s HR team has been reduced from 165 to 135 roles.

It follows a major recruitment outsourcing deal agreed at Buckinghamshire County Council last month, and continues a trend across the country of councils either using outsourcing or shared services to make efficiency savings.

Harrington said Hertfordshire has already employed Serco for a couple of years to run its payroll, and this new deal would help reduce overlap in transactional work further – although no redundancies have been made.

“We’ve introduced targets for Serco in how it delivers the payroll function against costs, and this will help streamline processes. At the same time, we are introducing new technology to further remove the paper and people intervention from the payroll process, removing duplication,” she told Personnel Today.

Last month, Buckinghamshire County Council announced it had outsourced its recruitment to Hays for both permanent and temporary staff across all council services – including schools and fire services – in a move that is expected to save it £690,000 in the first year. Five of the 100-strong HR team moved across to Hays under TUPE.

Gillian Hibberd, corporate director people, policy and communications, said the deal would not be without its challenges. “The move to outsourcing will fundamentally change my role. I am still responsible for recruitment management, but in partnership with Hays [the provider]. The Hays team is based on-site, and I’ve now got to work with a bigger organisation.”

However, a Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) report out earlier this year warned just 7% of those who outsourced felt it was an overall success, while only 10% said it had helped them become more strategic.

The CIPD said HR must work closely alongside procurement and finance in making the decisions, so objectives are clarified.

Outsourcing is spreading quickly across British local authorities. But many councils also see the benefit of shared services, particularly as less costs are involved in procuring a private-sector partner.

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