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Terms of reference of the Workforce Partnership Council (WPC).

Definition and purpose

1.1 The WPC is a tripartite social partnership structure of the Trade Unions/Employers/Welsh Government covering the devolved public services in Wales. Social partnership in Wales is a way of working, a set of behaviours which all partners commit to uphold in supporting our dedicated public service workforce to deliver strong, effective public services. It forms part of the overarching social partnership approach adopted in Wales.

1.2 The WPC operates in equal partnership between Welsh Government, Employers and Trade Unions – respecting the sovereignty and decision making structure of each partner. The sovereignty, decision making and accountability arrangements differ between the 3 partners and within the partners.

1.3 The WPC is recognised by each of the 3 partners as the key forum for cross-public services workforce matters in Wales. It seeks to reach agreement on matters which are cross-public service or relevant to the whole public service. Agreement in the context of social partnership means the agreement of all 3 parties. It is a forum for sharing information and good practice and for influencing, including the consideration, challenge and enhancement of policy in development of cross-public service workforce related matters. It also supports collective practice, even where formal agreements cannot be secured.

1.4 The WPC is a source of expert guidance and agreed direction on cross - public services workforce matters. It will operate in accordance with the principles set-out in for example, the Well-Being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015, other appropriate legislation and the priorities set-out by the First Minister in the National Strategy, Prosperity for All, including taking the steps needed to make Wales a fair work nation.

1.5 While the WPC is not a sovereign body in itself, it has significant influence and legitimacy arising from the commitment of the three partners to working on an effective tripartite basis. This involves each partner being representative of their constituent groups, ensuring that WPC good-practice, guidance and agreements are put into practice.

1.6 The WPC identifies the matters to be dealt with via cross-public service, all Wales guidance or agreement.

1.7 The WPC works through the relevant representative bodies to ensure all Wales agreements are implemented and guidance is acted upon.

1.8 The WPC is not a forum for collective bargaining, the resolution of local disputes or for sector specific matters (unless they have been agreed by the Joint Executive Committee (JEC) as appropriate for the WPC.)

Structure and governance

2.1 Employers, Trade Unions and Welsh Government will each determine their own membership for the WPC, ensuring there is representation from across the devolved public services, Trade Unions and Welsh Government policy areas.

2.2 WPC members will be responsible for representing the interests of their own sector and will need to have appropriate seniority and standing in order to maintain an effective two way dialogue with their sector. Accordingly WPC membership should not be subject to change from meeting to meeting. It is acknowledged however, that Welsh Government may need to alter its core membership from time to time, including Ministerial representation, depending on the policy areas being discussed by the WPC.

2.3 Employers, Trade Unions and Welsh Government will each have in place their own governance arrangements to ensure that WPC members have the necessary authority to take decisions and make commitments on behalf of those whom they represent. This will also require a more structured approach to WPC business, facilitated through the Joint Executive Committee, to allow for prior engagement as necessary.

2.4 The WPC will not seek to duplicate or incorporate these governance arrangements, but rather it will work with and through them both in the context of decision making and information flow. The WPC will therefore not require an additional, dedicated, sector-based or geographical support structure.

WPC Joint Executive Committee and full WPC meetings

3.1 A WPC JEC will be accountable to the WPC. The purpose of the Joint Executive Committee is to facilitate the work of the WPC, in consultation with representative bodies.

3.2 Employers, Trade Unions and Welsh Government will each determine their own membership for the WPC Joint Executive Committee, up to a maximum of 3 members each.

3.3 A more detailed description of the purpose and role of the WPC Joint Executive Committee is set-out in the terms of reference attached.

3.4 Meetings of the full WPC will take place twice a year. The purpose of the meetings will include, amongst other matters, agreement of the formal work programme proposed by the WPC Joint Executive Committee.

Joint secretariat

A joint secretariat will support the work of the WPC Joint Executive Committee on behalf of the tripartite structure. It will be responsible to the JEC for, amongst other things:

  • standard secretariat functions including agendas, papers and minutes of the WPC Joint Executive Committee and full WPC meetings
  • delivery of the work programme agreed by the WPC, including the proactive engagement of interested parties and specialists in relevant sectors, regions or single organisations
  • informing the Joint Executive Committee of lead times and mechanisms for securing agreement across the social partners.