FORMAL career breaks and secondment policies will be introduced across West Dunbartonshire which will benefit council staff.

Historically, there has been no formal procedures of this nature available to local government employees. But both have been progressed informally through the relevant line management structure.

The policies have been developed to provide a clear, robust and consistent approach to career breaks and secondments within the local authority and ensure managers are aware of the process to follow when dealing with them.

It will not apply to teachers and other associated professionals covered by the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers.

The proposals were discussed at the corporate services committee on Wednesday morning.

Geraldine Lyden, HR business partner at West Dunbartonshire Council, said: “The secondment policy has been similar to the career break policy by formalising arrangements that have been there for some time informally.

“What I would add is that with the secondment policy is that obviously we have to have an arrangement with all external employers.

“There are terms and conditions to highlight what a manager should do when someone is on secondment and what to do when they are coming back.”

Councillors praised the initiative and said the idea was a good step forward.

Labour councillor Martin Rooney said: “I would like to know about the ethos of the scheme. As well as helping staff it could also be used as a way of moving people from one job to another.”

Cllr Rooney was told that applications would be looked at on their own merits to see how it would benefit the individual and the organisations.

Through discussions with relevant managers and trade union colleagues, it was acknowledged there was a need for an agreed career break policy to support a consistent approach.

The term secondment relates to the temporary placement of an employee in a different part of the council or to an external organisation that will benefit all parties.

In line with the needs of the service a secondment will normally last for a minimum period of six months and a maximum of two years.

Councillor Lawrence O’Neil asked: “If there’s a disciplinary issue with somebody who is on secondment, who has the responsibility in terms of the process?”

Ms Lyden responded: “There would be discussions between the secondment organisation and ourselves because they are still our employee.

“We would need to be aware of the disciplinary matter and we would jointly work with the organisation to get the facts and they would follow either the disciplinary policy of that organisation or ours.”

Following the discussion both policies were agreed and will be implemented in due course.