Derbyshire County Council service sell off labelled a 'shambles' after workers given wrong pay packets

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Low-paid workers were given ‘incorrect’ pay packets after a controversial outsourcing of services in Derbyshire which has been labelled a ‘shambles’.

Derbyshire County Council signed a deal with Suffolk County Council in September 2019 to form a joint venture company to oversee its team of more than 900 caretakers and cleaners.

Known as Vertas (Derbyshire) Limited, the new company came into effect in September this year after a five-month delay caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

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A staff member, who says she was transferred to Vertas and asked not to be named, says that just nine weeks in the structure is ‘failing’.

Derbyshire County Council's HQ in Matlock.Derbyshire County Council's HQ in Matlock.
Derbyshire County Council's HQ in Matlock.

She said: “Only 70 per cent of staff transferred have been able to complete their online induction and some staff have still not been provided with correct PPE.

"Hardly any support or training is being given to managers to enable them to support staff and pay day was a complete shambles.

"Some staff have not been paid at all and others have been paid double, which can be equally distressing as the money will obviously need to be paid back.

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“The T and A phone in system is the root of much of this as staff are having difficulty registering their time in work resulting in mispayment.

“I feel the whole service is on the verge of collapse and many staff are leaving because of this.”

A spokesperson for Derbyshire County Council said she was aware that ‘a few of our former employees who moved to Vertas were paid incorrectly’, but this was rectified ‘immediately’.

"Training and the new phone system are still being rolled out, but we would encourage employees to contact their line manager or the Vertas HR team if they need any further advice or support,” she added.

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A spokesperson for Vertas said: “We are sorry to hear one of our new colleagues hasn’t had a smooth onboarding experience."

They added: “The joint venture has meant transferring the employment data for circa 900 colleagues from Derbyshire County Council to Vertas.

"Our payroll and HR team have done an extraordinary job making this happen during a global pandemic – with colleagues working from home, travel restrictions and dealing with furlough.”

Vertas said training has been completed online rather than face to face, and support has been provided.

In these confusing and worrying times, local journalism is more vital than ever. Thanks to everyone who helps us ask the questions that matter by taking out a subscription or buying a paper. We stand together. Nancy Fielder, editor.