Information for staff

Information for staff

Here you will find information for Northumberland County Council employees including health and safety, staff induction, human resources and e-learning.

Staff induction

This page gives an overview of the authority for new staff members.

Objectives of staff induction
The objectives of staff induction are to integrate staff into the organisation and provide them with access to resources to perform their job efficiently and effectively within a short timeframe.

Objectives also include providing support to enable staff to:
  • understand their role within the organisation
  • contribute effectively to the success of the organisation
  • understand processes, procedures, structures and standards
  • develop a positive attitude to their work and the organisation
  • be aware of their legal responsibilities, including those relating to fellow staff and to health and safety
  • enhance staff retention within the organisation
Staff induction process
The induction programme should introduce the employee to their working environment and their job, including colleagues, expectations of conduct and performance.

The aim of induction is to make the employee feel an integral part of the department and the council, and to enable them to settle into their job so they can become productive and effective quickly.

To find out more about induction, simply select the induction scheme document in the table below. Staff should receive a service-led induction as well as the corporate induction.

A new member of staff may find the following documents useful as a starting point.
  • For more information about health and safety, see below.
  • To find out more about staff pensions, see further down this page.
Further information on staff induction
For more information on staff induction, please contact the learning and organisational development team on 01670 624803.

Staff health & safety

The corporate health and safety team provides advice to managers and other employees of Northumberland County Council.

Particular members of the team also provide advice and information to schools and other county council establishments on the subject of outdoor educational visits.  In addition, the team provide advice to partner organisations such as Active Northumberland and to some school academies.

Please note that public health and safety concerns should be directed to either the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) (who enforce health and safety legislation in industrial and high risk premises) or the county council's public protection service for non-industrial premises such as shops, offices, restaurants etc.

Accident, near miss, violent incident reporting & investigation
On this page, you will find forms for recording accidents/near misses and violent incidents, as well as documents to assist with management investigations.

Incident reporting

To report an incident to the County Council's Corporate Health and Safety Team, you can either download and print the necessary form and post it to the team at County Hall or you can complete the online report form and email it to

Please refer to the appropriate guidance documents below, prior to completion of forms.  Further information can also be found in the Corporate Health and Safety Manual and the Schools’ Health and Safety Manual

Internal incident report forms

The forms below can be completed online and emailed directly to the corporate health and safety team via

Please note, managers must complete the signatory section to confirm they have viewed the form.
The forms below can be downloaded and printed. Once completed, they can be posted to the health and safety team:

Statutory reporting to the Health and Safety Executive (HSE)

The council has a duty to report certain injuries and incidents to the health and safety executive, under the Reporting of Injuries, Diseases and Dangerous Occurrences Regulations 2013. The forms for reporting incidents online to the health and safety executive can be accessed by clicking the necessary link:

Guidance documents

Please refer to the relevant guidance documents provided below:

Incident investigation

Risk assessments
Here you will find general risk assessment forms, templates and guidance documentation

Risk assessment forms: templates and guidance
Provided below are an assortment of blank risk assessment forms and guidance documents on how to complete these.

General risk assessments
Below are a range of general risk assessments to assist managers in completing risk assessments, the content of which should be added to and edited as required. 

Stress related general risk assessments are available to access by clicking here.

School risk assessments
The risk assessments below are relevant to activities in all schools. The content should be added to and edited as required.

Inspection checklists & audits
Policy & guidance documents
Provided below are policy and guidance documents relating to health and safety:

Fire logbook

Safeguarding and security self-help kit for schools

Staying safe while using social media
To help keep you safe online, staff who use social media are encouraged to complete the training module ‘getting started using social media’, which is available to access via the council’s learning together e-learning system.

  • Click here for further advice on the use of social media.


Health & safety bulletins
Health & safety manual (non-schools)
The corporate health and safety policy manual for managers and other employees of Northumberland County Council is available below. A separate manual is available for those staff working in schools.

Managers should ensure that any paper copies of the policy manual retained on their premises are kept up to date. Any changes made to the manual will be published below.  Where there are significant changes in policy these will also publicised via health and safety groups and staff bulletins:
Health & safety manual (schools)
The health and safety manual for schools is available below for use by all employees and managers in schools. A separate manual exists for all other council employees.

Headteachers or managers should ensure that any paper copies of the policy manual retained on their premises are kept up to date. Any major changes made to the manual will be publicised via the schools e-courier and published on this webpage:
Building & construction
Hand-arm vibration
This page details the information and documentation required in order to ensure that employees’ exposure to hand arm vibration is suitably managed.

road drill For further information on this subject, please click here.

cleaning picture
Health & safety law poster
As an employer, Northumberland County Council is required, by law, to display the health and safety executive approved health and safety law poster in a prominent position in each workplace. This informs workers of the responsibilities that they and their employer have in relation to health and safety at work. The poster is available in two sizes: the standard A2 size and a smaller A3 version.

As an alternative for peripatetic workers, leaflets and pocket cards are also available.
health and safety law poster

Where can I purchase the poster?
It is available from various bookshops, health and safety executive books, and the supplies team, who are the council’s stationary supplier. No central budget is available to fund this. Leaflets and pocket cards can be downloaded, free, by clicking this link.

Once your new poster has arrived, you should add the names of the health and safety representatives and health and safety contacts.

Health and safety representatives
This should include the contact details of any staff health and safety representatives

Other health and safety contacts
The contact details for the corporate health and safety team should be added:

Safety signs & notices
Outdoor educational visits
Visits involving children and young people
The county council uses an online visit notification system called EVOLVE. This system is currently used by 102 other local authorities across the country. Schools and other establishments, undertaking outdoor educational visits involving children and young people, can access EVOLVE by clicking here. Further guidance and policy documents can also be accessed via this system.

For further information or assistance please contact either:
  • Nigel Chopping, Health and Safety Advisor - 01670 623807
  • Joan Comb, Technical Assistant - 01670 623805
Visits involving adults
For outdoor visits involving adult service users, this pre-journey checklist should be utilised.
Further advice on health & safety
If you need further advice, please speak to your lead contact health and safety advisor. Alternatively you can email the corporate health and safety team at or call 01670 623854.

Health and safety concerns can also be raised via the appropriate safety group. A list of groups is available by clicking here.

Useful websites and documents

Learning Together

Learning Together is the online learning environment for employees of Northumberland County Council.

Human resources

Here you will find information on human resources for staff, including HR policies, guidelines and procedures.

We are currently in the process of reviewing this page, if you require a policy or form please contact or call us on 01670 626 150

Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) Administration

The pension scheme administration is part of the finance directorate and deals with local government and firefighter pension schemes.

Main tasks

Benefits of the scheme
Current news
Leaflets, forms & calculators
External website links
Northumberland County Council severance scheme
Administering Authority Discretions

Firefighters' Pension Scheme (FPS) Administration

The Firefighters' Pension Scheme (FPS) for Northumberland Fire and Rescue is administered by Northumberland County Council.

The new FPS 2015

The Firefighter’s Pension Scheme 2015 came into force on 1 April 2015.

FPS 2015 summary:

  • Pension based on 1/59.7th of pay
  • Normal Pension Age (NPA) of age 60
  • Individual CARE Pension Account
  • Active pension account revalued in line with Average Weekly Earnings (AWE) index
  • Deferred and pensioner benefits revalued in line with Consumer Price Index (CPI)
  • Can buy Added Pension
  • Partial retirement possible from age 55
  • Employer initiated early retirement
  • Commute pension to lump sum at rate of 12:1
  • Ill Health cover
  • Death in service benefits
  • Family/Dependants benefits
With the introduction of FPS 2015 there are now four membership categories:
  • Fully Protected (FPS 1992 and FPS 2006) – Stay in current Scheme.
  • Tapered (FPS 1992 and FPS 2006) – Don’t start accruing ‘CARE’ until a date later than 1 April 2015
  • No Protection (FPS 1992 and FPS 2006) – Benefits accrue in 2015 scheme from 1st April 2015.
  • Modified Retained Firefighters
Firefighters’ pension scheme 2015 calculator
This calculator was produced by DCLG and can be used to work out how the new firefighters’ pension scheme 2015 will affect you.
FPS 2006
FPS 1992
Useful contacts
Helen Payne
Team Leader – Pension Benefits
The Pension Section
County Hall
NE61 2EF

LGPS Local Pension Board

The four person board was established in 2015 to oversee the council's pension scheme, along with a chairman of the board.

What do we do?
The role of the board is to:
  • make sure we comply with the LGPS regulations and any other legislation relating to the governance and administration of our pension scheme
  • make sure any LGPS requirements imposed by the pensions regulator are met
  • make sure our governance and administration of the LGPS is effective and efficient
The board oversees these matters but it is not a decision making body in relation to the management of the pension fund or administration of the LGPS. Instead the board makes recommendations to assist in the management of pensions. 
Our structure
  • There are four members of the board, or five if an independent chair is deemed necessary.
  • Only the four members of the board, and not the independent chair, have voting rights.
The two employer representatives are:
(i) a Northumberland County councillor who does not sit as a voting member of the Pension Fund Panel, and
(ii) the non-voting employer representative who sits as observer on the Pension Fund Panel;

The two scheme member representatives are:
(i) one of the three non-voting member representatives who sit as observers on the Pension Fund Panel, and
(ii) a pensioner, sourced by seeking interest via the pensioner newsletter

There are a minimum of two meetings per year, with the option for the chair of the board to call more. 
Current board members and independent chair

Employer representatives:

Councillor Bernard Pidcock, Northumberland County Council 
Appointed to the board May 2015  - email:

Helene Adams, Finance officer at Northumberland National Park Authority
Employer Representative Observer, Northumberland County Council Pension Fund Panel
Appointed to the board in June 2015 - email: or

Scheme member representatives:

Sue Dick, Library Assistant at Active Northumberland and Unison steward (Northumberland branch) 
Employee/pensioner member representative observer on the Pension Fund Panel 
Appointed to the board in June 2015 - email: or

John Clark LGPS pensioner representative on the board
Appointed to the board in June 2015 - email:

Independent chair:

Gerard Moore, CIPFA
Appointed to the Board July 2015 - email:
Appointments process
The appointments process for each member of the board is set out in the board's terms of reference below.

Terms of reference
Agenda Papers and Minutes

Firefighters' Pension Scheme Local Pension Board

Firefighters' Pension Scheme Local Pension Board

The four person Board was established in 2015, in accordance with the Public Service Pensions Act 2013, to assist Northumberland County Council, in its capacity as Fire and Rescue Authority, in the governance and administration of the Firefighters’ Pension Scheme (FPS).

Note:  The FPS Local Pension Board is not a local authority committee.

What do we do?
The role of the Board is to assist Northumberland County Council as Scheme Manager:
  • to secure compliance with the FPS Regulations and any other legislation relating to the governance and administration of the Scheme, and requirements imposed in relation to the FPS by the Pensions Regulator: and 
  • to ensure the effective and efficient governance and administration of the FPS.
The Council considers the FPS Local Pension Board to provide oversight of these matters and, accordingly, the FPS Local Pension Board is not a decision making body in relation to the management of the FPS.  Instead the Board can make recommendations to assist in such management of the FPS.
Our structure
There are four members of the Board, all with voting rights.
The two Employer Representatives are:
            Two NCC councillors other than the Chairman of the Pension Fund Panel or
            members of the Disputes Panel (Fire Service);
The two Scheme Member Representatives are:
            (i)    a FPS Union Representative, and
            (ii)   a FPS active or pensioner member, sourced by seeking interest from
       members via a direct request.
There are a minimum of two meetings per year, with the option for the Chair of the Board to call more.
Current Board Members
Membership and Contact Details
Employer Representatives:
Councillor Malcolm Robinson
Councillor member of Northumberland County Council
  • appointed to the Board in September 2017
Councillor Ian Swithenbank
Councillor member of Northumberland County Council
  • appointed to the Board in September 2017
Scheme Member Representatives:

 Guy Tiffin                 
  FBU bridge official (Northumberland County branch)
  Watch Manager (NCC Fire & Rescue Service)
  • appointed to the Board in September 2015
Stephen Richards  
FPS active/pensioner member representative on the Board
  • appointed to the Board in September 2015
Chair of the Board:
Stephen Richards           
  • appointed to the Board in September 2015
Agenda Papers and Minutes
Annual Report
Declarations of interests
Can be accessed from the link below:     

Appointments Process
The appointments process for each member of the Board is set out in the Terms of Reference. 

The Appointments Panel (as defined in the Terms of Reference) did not deem it necessary to appoint an independent chair of the Board at inception.

 The Appointments Panel held interviews in September 2015 to select the active/pensioner member representative, and selected the Chair of NCC’s FPS LPB after making that appointment.

Terms of reference


Local government pension fund investment

The pension fund investment team is part of the finance directorate and provides a range of accounting services to the pension fund, together with servicing and support for the council’s investment panel.

Main tasks
Our main tasks are:
  • to ensure compliance with financial regulations, standing orders, legislation and regulations
  • preparation of the pension fund annual report and accounts
  • maintenance of the fund accounts and services to the pension fund panel
Annual report & accounts
The annual reports and accounts for the council are prepared by staff at the end of the financial year. They show the income, expenditure and net assets of the fund.
Pension fund panel decisions self-assessment
The Northumberland County Council pension fund panel conducts a self-assessment of its own effectiveness as a decision-making body.
Funding strategy statement
All local government pension scheme funds must have one of these statements. This is to establish a strategy, specific to the fund, to identify the best way to move forward.
Action plan
An annual action plan for the pension fund is approved by the pension fund panel at its quarterly meeting held in February each year.
Investment Strategy Statement
All local government pension scheme funds must have one of these statements. This is to describe the fund’s policy on the investment objective(s), the types of investments held, the attitude to risk and the share voting rights.

NCC Investment Strategy Statement 2017

Governance policy statement and statement of policy concerning communication
All local government pension scheme funds must have both of these statements. The purpose of the governance policy statement is to describe the authority’s pension fund governance arrangements. The purpose of the statement of policy concerning communication is to set out the authority’s policy on communicating with fund stakeholders, such as employers and employees.
Clare Gorman – Principal Accountant (Pensions)
The Pension Section
County Hall
NE61 2EF Andrew Lister - Principal Accountant (Pensions)
The Pension Section
County Hall
NE61 2EF
  • Tel: 01670 620146
  • Email:

Legal services

Welcome to the webpage for legal services which is part of the council’s corporate resources directorate.

Legal services is continually facing significant challenges both in terms of service review and identifying recurring savings to assist the council as a whole in achieving efficiency savings in these times of austerity.

What do we do?
Legal services provides advice and support across the full range of council functions and has developed a number of service level agreements (SLAs) with other organisations for the provision of legal services.

These SLAs are constantly reviewed and meetings with client departments are held in the normal course of business.

Our key customers are:
  • the various county council groups and its arm’s length management organisations
  • elected members
  • town & parish councils
  • NHS
  • academies and various government agencies, together with other clients for who we act under service level agreements
The overall aim of the legal team is to provide a full legal service to the council and those other bodies to who it provides services under service level agreements or other arrangements.
Key aims & objectives
  • We advise and support members, senior officers and their staff and various council bodies and panels on all legal and related matters.
  • We provide advocacy services to ensure the council is appropriately represented in the various levels of courts and tribunals.
  • We proactively advising our clients on developments in the law and assisting them with preparing for any consequential effects on their services.
  • In the case of clients, other than the council itself, we provide the legal services stipulated in the service level agreements or other arrangements with those clients.
We provide and maintain legal advice and support to front line services, other central support services and the council by:
  • protecting the integrity of the council and ensuring sound governance
  • providing legal services and advice to clients other than the council itself in accordance with service level agreements or other arrangements
  • continuously improving services and value for money by appraising performance, developing staff and reviewing practices and procedures
  • listening to customers and partners and developing stakeholder relationships
  • actively supporting the democratic process and reviews of the constitution
What is our commitment to diversity & inclusion?
The service has recently signed up to the Law Society’s diversity and inclusion charter.

The Law Society diversity and inclusion charter is the flagship diversity initiative of the legal profession.

It is an instantly recognisable public statement of commitment by its signatories and a framework for positive action across all strands of diversity.
How do we deliver the service?
Legal services is made up of four teams, children and adult services, corporate and governance, regulation and legal support.

Children & adult services

Peter Tilson – principal solicitor


  • We advise children’s services on issues arising from care of young persons, providing advice, drafting legal proceedings and representing them in court relating to child protection and adoption.
  • We provide advice to independent reviewing officers from North Tyneside Council, chairing child protection conferences as required.
  • We advise children’s services on disclosure of information under the Data Protection Act, and represent children’s services in court on matters relating to public interest immunity.
  • We advise Northumberland Safeguarding Children Board.
  • We advise Northumberland County Council's adoption and fostering panels.

We advise Northumbria Healthcare Service on:

  • care in the community
  • vulnerable adults, the elderly and adults with learning/physical disabilities and mental health problems
  • matters affecting service users
  • complaints
  • probate and court protection matters including advocacy
  • residents' disputes and determinations
  • court of protection, receivership and lasting power of attorney
  • deprivation of assets and avoiding care fees
  • drafting of policies and procedures for Northumbria Healthcare Service
  • Northumberland Safeguarding Adults Board and committee membership
  • the safeguarding adults co-ordinator in respect of individual cases and general protection
  • complaints against the  council and/or Northumbria Healthcare Service
Corporate & governance

Helen Lancaster – principal solicitor (Monday - Thursday)


  • We advise on the ethical standards regime as it affects county councillors and town and parish councils.
  • We support the council’s systems for dealing with local assessment, investigation and determination of complaints about members’ conduct.
  • We advise on the requirements of the council’s constitution, finance and contract rules.
  • We advise on legal issues arising from the ombudsman and other complaints.
  • We advise in issues relating to Newcastle Airport Local Authority Holding Company Ltd.
  • We deal with corporate issues, such as human rights and freedom of information.
  • We provide legal representation at complaints panels.
  • We advise about trusts and charities.
  • We advise about pensions issues, including part-time pension claims.
  • We advise about the Data Protection Act.
  • We advise about the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act.
  • We advise about copyright issues.
  • We advise children’s services and schools on issues such as admissions, exclusions and special educational needs.
  • We providing legal advisory and litigation services for procurement.
  • We deal with all the associated council activities regarding property acquisition and disposal.
  • We provide contractual and procurement advice across the council.
  • We provide advice to the local services group about open spaces, cemeteries and allotments.
  • We work in respect of legal charges.
  • We brief Counsel or other experts if engaged for advisory and advocacy services.
  • We advise on human resources policies and handling employment tribunals, including advocacy.

Neil Masson - principal solicitor


  • We advise on and undertake planning and environmental health enforcement action through service of notices and appearances in court.
  • We attend and advise planning, licensing and regulatory committees.
  • We appear for the council and advocate its case in relation to appeals against the licensing authority’s decision not to grant licenses in relation to the sale of alcohol, provision of public entertainment and taxi drivers’ operators.
  • We advise about community safety, including information sharing and the council’s obligations under the Crime and Disorder Act.
  • We advise, prepare and present antisocial behaviour order applications in the magistrates’ court.
  • We apply for injunctions, housing possession and other civil remedies in support of the council’s antisocial behaviour initiative.
  • We advise on and conduct criminal prosecutions on behalf of trading standards.
  • We brief Counsel or other experts if engaged for advisory and advocacy services.
  • We advise the fire service on a variety of issues.
  • We advise on and conduct prosecutions of parents for failing to send their children to school under the Education Act.
  • We advise on conducting breach proceedings on behalf of the youth offending team in respect of young people who breach criminal orders.
  • We provide advisory and litigation services for highways, rights of way and village green matters.
  • We attend and advise the rights of way committee.
  • We advise on environmental issues.
Procedure for complaints & comments
This procedure has been introduced for use by legal services’ clients in accordance with our commitment to providing a quality, client responsive legal service and to the continuous improvement of that service.

This procedure covers both complaints and also more general comments clients may wish to make about the service they have received from legal services or suggestions for improvement of the service.

A copy of this procedure is sent to each client department and to each school and any other organisation which has a service level agreement with legal services.

It may be necessary to update this procedure to incorporate any revisions found necessary through experience of operation or through client comments.

If the procedure requires updating then a copy of the revised procedure will be sent to each client department, school and organisation with a service level agreement.

In any event client departments, schools and those other organisations will receive a copy of the current procedure with each re-issue of the legal services’ client care information document.
Any client who wishes to make a formal complaint about the way that a matter has been handled or about any other aspect of the service provided by legal services should initially send details of their complaint, in writing, to the legal services manager.

Legal services is committed to high quality legal advice and client care. If you are unhappy about any aspect of the service you have received or the bill, please contact:

Liam Henry, Legal Services Manager in writing to Legal Services Unit, Northumberland County Council, County Hall, Morpeth, Northumberland NE61 2EF.

We have a procedure in place which details how we handle complaints which is available on the council’s website here.

The process

  • The legal services manager will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within seven days of its receipt.
  • The legal services manager will investigate the complaint and provide a response to the complainant within 28 days of receipt of the complaint.
  • In exceptional circumstances, if a full response cannot be provided within 28 days of receipt of the complaint, the legal services manager will write to the complainant within 28 days informing the complainant of when he/she will receive a full response.
  • If you are dissatisfied with the response of the legal services manager, the complainant should write to the head of corporate resources explaining why he/she is dissatisfied with the response.
  • Every complaint will be recorded by the head of corporate resources/legal services manager in a register which will contain brief details of the complaint and its outcome. Each complaint and all associated correspondence will be kept on a file maintained by the head of corporate resources/legal services manager.
  • If you are not satisfied with our handling of your complaint you can ask the legal ombudsman to consider the complaint. Normally, you will need to bring a complaint to the legal ombudsman within six months of receiving a final written response from us about your complaint or within a year of the act or omission about which you are complaining occurring (or you becoming aware of it).
Comments & suggestions
Legal services also welcome any comments you may wish to make upon the service you have received or any suggestions you may have for its improvement.

If clients have any such suggestions or comments, they should write to the legal services manager.

The legal services manager will acknowledge and respond to any such comments or suggestions within seven days of receipt. If a comment or suggestion requires a detailed response which cannot be provided within seven days it will be provided within 28 days.
Review & improvement
The legal services manager will conduct an annual review of all complaints and comments received during the year under this procedure to ensure that all actions to be taken by legal services in response to a complaint or comment have been taken, and that any improvements to the service implemented in response have been maintained.