Are You Needing a Locum Clerk?

23 Apr 2024

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Sometimes Councils find themselves in need of a temporary clerk or additional staff resource, whether that be due to illness, maternity or paternity cover, holidays, vacancies, increased workloads, or one-off projects.

Here are some key steps to take when you find yourself in this position and you need to contract a locum:

  • Contact Local Council Consultancy* (an SLCC Enterprise) or other reputable contact to source a locum clerk, deputy clerk etc.
  • Confirm your requirements from a locum i.e. number of hours needed, duration of the contract, the working arrangements (home/office/hybrid), the accountancy systems used etc.
  • Once a suitable locum has been found and a quote obtained for the services, the council should convene a meeting and agree the contract and the expenditure.
  • It should be noted that any person employed as the clerk, must be paid through PAYE and not on a self-employed basis. When using the services of Local Council Consultancy* this is all taken care of for you (see details below).
  • If needed, the chair of the council can issue the summons for an extraordinary meeting to ensure the employment of a locum and the relevant spend is approved. Note: If you are the chair of the council and require advice about this process, please contact your County Association for Local Councils.
  • If the person absent is the Proper Officer of the council, then the Council must resolve to appoint another person to fulfil this position. This could be the locum or another person of the Council’s choosing.
  • Check the council’s insurance policy as many such policies have ‘key-man cover’. There will be conditions attached to this so it is important to speak to your insurers to understand how and if a claim can be submitted and the level of support available.
  • If the absence is due to a vacancy, there is helpful information available regarding the process to follow in the separate Staff Recruitment Advice Note.
  • Should the council wish to secure a locum independently, then there are 10 useful steps outlined at the end of this document.

We recommend keeping this Advice Note in your ICE (In Case of Emergency) pack or council office (letting members know where it is) so that the council know what steps to follow.

*Local Council Consultancy (LCC)

Whatever the reason a locum is needed, Local Council Consultancy (LCC) can help by providing experienced, qualified staff for both short-medium and long-term placements.

LCC was launched in late 2018 by the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) as an additional capability to the advisory and membership services. With the aim to be the first-choice provider for locum and consultancy services in the local council sector, LCC provide a value for money, sector specific consultancy and locum service.

LCC services are delivered by our team of Certificate in Local Council Administration (CiLCA) qualified locums, all of whom have the knowledge and skills to provide the support you need. They are employed by the Society of Local Council Clerks (SLCC) for the duration of the assignment, so we take care of all the relevant employment details, enabling the council and locum to comply with HMRC off-payroll rules.

The hourly rate charged for locum support is often more than that of permanent staff due to the nature of the work and the flexibility offered, however, in return is a trained individual who is ready to hit the ground running. They can deal with complex situations and impart new skills and processes, bringing added benefit to the council and public they serve.

The rate is agreed with you at the start of the contract and is inclusive of Employers National Insurance, our payroll and handling costs, pension contributions and a payment for annual leave. LCC do not charge a fee to source a locum and, to make it easy and simple, we do not ask for an initial deposit or an upfront payment – you just receive an invoice from us each month once the locum’s timesheet has been approved and submitted to us.

As an added benefit, should one of our locums be appointed to the permanent position following completion of an assignment of 12 weeks or longer, we do not charge an agency fee. We also provide all our locums with Full membership to SLCC’s advisory service ensuring that they have access to further expert support should it be required.

For more information on how we can help, please contact us at [email protected].


10 Steps for Employing a CiLCA Qualified Locum Town/Parish Clerk

To successfully employ a locum town/parish clerk with diverse professional experience, including CiLCA and legal governance expertise, follow these steps:

1. Needs Assessment
Identify the specific services and tasks requiring professional experience in CiLCA (Certificate in Local Council Administration) and legal governance. Clearly outline these requirements to align with the council and community’s needs.

2. Job Advertisement
Craft a targeted job advertisement highlighting the need for CiLCA and legal governance expertise. Advertise the position on relevant platforms, including local government associations and job boards.

3. Application Review
Screen applications with a focus on candidates with proven experience in CiLCA, legal governance, RFO duties and community governance. Ensure their resumes demonstrate a strong understanding and experience of local council administration.

4. Shortlisting
Shortlist candidates based on their qualifications, experience, and alignment with the council and community’s unique requirements to deliver council management and operational tasks as required. Arrange an initial interview to assess their suitability.

5. Interview Panel
Assemble an interview panel that includes representatives familiar with CiLCA, RFO, legal governance and community governance. Develop interview questions that gauge the candidate’s proficiency in these areas.

6. Assessment Task
Consider assigning a relevant assessment task to evaluate the candidate’s practical application of CILCA, RFO duties, legal and community governance knowledge. This could include a scenario-based exercise.

7. Reference Checks
Conduct thorough reference checks, specifically focusing on the candidate’s experience with CiLCA, RFO, legal and community governance in previous roles.

8. Offer and Contract
Extend a formal offer to the selected locum candidate, ensuring that the terms of employment and the duration of the locum position, are clearly outlined in the contract and comply with the NJC green book terms.

9. Induction and Training
Provide a comprehensive induction that includes an overview of the council, community, specific CiLCA , legal governance procedures, health and safety procedures and any unique aspects of the role. Offer ongoing training and support as needed.

10. Regular Performance Reviews
Implement regular performance reviews to monitor the locum clerk’s progress, ensuring their contributions align with the council’s expectations in terms of CiLCA, RFO responsibilities, staff management, legal and community governance and comply with health and safety requirements.

By following these steps, you can secure a locum parish clerk with the necessary professional qualifications and experience to effectively serve the council and community’s varied needs.