Hello PPMA members and friends

This week’s blog post comes from Ellie Goddard our PPMA Rising Star. As part of her prize she joined President Richard Crouch on a recent trip to visit our IPMA-HR colleagues at their Annual Conference ‘across the pond’ and she shares her experience with us:-

‘Richard and I were invited to attend, and present at, the IPMA-HR annual conference in the US which, this year was held in Las Vegas (although it was very nice, Vegas had nothing on our choice of venue for last year’s PPMA conference in Bristol!)

The IPMA-HR is the PPMA equivalent for public service HR colleagues in the USA and Canada and given the respective size of those countries compared to the UK, their membership and therefore size of their conference was understandably on a much larger scale albeit following a similar format to ours in terms of key note speakers, employment law updates and seminar sessions. On the opening day of the conference Richard presented his ‘Changing the World of Work’ paper which had only recently been published and this was well received and generated some interesting debate.

Due to the timing of the conference (late September 2013) many of the seminar sessions were devoted to ‘The Affordable Care Act’ or ‘Obama Care’ as it has come to be known. It was therefore really interesting to see what happened in early October in terms of the closure of Federal Government departments as this would have directly affected many of the colleagues who attended the conference.

Although there are clear differences between the delivery of public services in the US and the UK, we found our colleagues ‘across the pond’ share many of the same challenges we face in HR including negotiating with Trade Union colleagues and the on-going challenge of reductions in funding-having to do more with less or the same with less. Another key theme of the conference therefore focussed on how to keep employees engaged during times of financial austerity.

We also learned of some of the differences in approach to Disciplinary sanctions applied in the US including suspending without pay as a sanction which was described to us as “a trial of unemployment” and last chance agreements; an agreement which is drawn up in consultation with the employee’s trade union colleague and which sets out that the employer will not dismiss but if there is any further misconduct, for the entire length of their employment then the employee will be dismissed without question!

Attending the IPMA-HR conference was an extremely valuable experience both professionally and personally and I would like our US colleagues to be able to say the same about our conference in Leeds next year.’

Ellie

 

Ellie Goddard

Senior HR Advisor, East Sussex County Council and PPMA Rising Star 2013