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Information relating to changes to staff hybrid working patterns: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

FOI Reference: FOI/202400406289
Date received: 26 March 2024
Date responded: 23 April 2024


Information Requested

I am writing to request information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 regarding the recent changes to staff hybrid working patterns announced on 28/02/2024. Specifically, I seek the following:

Request for information 1: Minutes of all executive team meetings and/or any other team meetings where these changes were discussed or agreed upon.

Request for information 2: Copies of communications sent to line managers detailing the change, including dates and times of dispatch.

Request for information 3: All risk assessments undertaken with regard to disabled staff returning to the office two days per week.

Request for information 4: Minutes from consultations held with trade unions and HR/people advice regarding this change.

Request for information 5: Details on how office attendance is currently monitored and any anticipated changes to this monitoring, including the potential use of disciplinary procedures for non-compliance with the new policy. Specifically, meeting minutes are requested where the use of disciplinary or capability/performance procedures was discussed.

Request for information 6: Assessments of office capacity for accommodating all staff returning two days per week, especially considerations for staff with disabilities.

Request for information 7: Records of any opposition to the changes from parties such as HR or trade union representatives.

Request for information 8: Comments under the saltire article related to this topic that have been removed by moderation teams, up to the processing date of this request. As per legislation, the redacted comments are requested that contain no personal information.

Request for information 9: In the question and answer documentation on saltire, it states that occupational health services could be used or “other healthcare professionals”. Specifically, I would like information on these other healthcare professionals, whether they are the (senior) practitioners employed by the agency, and information on their qualifications and suitability to recommend adjustments, such as OHN or SCPHN registration with the NMC.

Request for information 10: Details on the rationale for implementing the changes prior to the completion of the updated EIA, including expected completion date and any meeting minutes discussing this matter. If a draft version of the updated EIA is available, this is requested for release.

Request for information 11: Details of management cascades at agency level, as well as CSD and H&SC specific, in relation to these changes.

Response

All members of staff have a contractual base location in their contract of employment which is their permanent, full-time place of work. Social Security Scotland is committed to working in a hybrid way and as part of our implementation, we have agreed that from mid-April 2024, staff should spend at least two days per week (pro-rata) in an office. Exceptions may be made for colleagues and these will be discussed and agreed between the line manager and the individual.

Request for information 1:

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. To locate and retrieve the requested information would require extensive searches and sifting for information within scope of your request. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. For example by requesting the information for a particular month and for specific team meetings. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at:

https://www.foi.scot/how-do-i-...

To be helpful, we have provided a copy of a Executive Team paper (Document 1) surfaced during our initial searches. This may fulfil some of your information needs.

Request for information 2:

Please find attached the information which you have requested (Document 2).

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

Request for information 3:

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. risk assessments are tailored to an individual’s personal circumstances and as such release of the information could lead to the identification of those individuals. Disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

Request for information 4 and 7:

Please find attached the information which you have requested (Documents 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

Request for information 5:

Office attendance is recorded by colleagues scanning into offices and manually at our Enterprise House building in Dundee. In addition to this, reviews are undertaken on the Flexi Online system (the electronic system that allows staff to record their start and finish times throughout each day.) There are currently no changes planned on the tracking of occupancy figures.

Please find attached the remainder of the information which you have requested (Documents 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8).

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, ie names of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

Request for information 6:

Please find attached the information which you have requested (Document 9).

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.

An exemption under section 39(1) of FOISA applies to some of the information requested because disclosure would, or would be likely to, endanger the safety of an individual/individuals. Floor plans have been redacted from the documents. To disclose this information would put valuable intelligence into the hands of hostile actors, compromising security measures and posing a significant security risk to our staff.

This exemption is subject to the 'public interest test'. Therefore, taking account of all the circumstances of this case, we have considered if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. We have found that, on balance, the public interest lies in favour of upholding the exemption. We recognise that there is a public interest in disclosing information as part of open, transparent and accountable government, and to inform public debate. However, there is greater public interest in protecting individuals’ safety.

Request for information 8:

Please find attached the information which you have requested (Document 10).

Request for information 9:


On occasion, a referral to an external specialist may be made where a colleague has a condition which requires more specialist knowledge or input than can be obtained from our occupational health provider. For example, we have used the Royal National Institute of Blind People to give us advice on the impact of visual impairments. Where we seek advice from our internal healthcare practitioners, they would be qualified to provide that advice eg by Royal College of Nursing registration.

Request for information 10:

We have interpreted your request to relate to an Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA). An EQIA was completed for the Our Ways of Working project, and will be reviewed as per EQIA guidance.

Request for information 11:

Please find attached the information which you have requested (Document 11).

An exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to a small amount of the information requested because it is personal data of a third party, i.e. names/contact details of individuals, and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018. This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption.


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Social Security Scotland is committed to publishing its response to requests. The Scottish Government also publishes responses to requests. You can view the responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

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