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19 January 2011, 09:48
Dorset County Council has announced plans to review terms and conditions for all employees to protect jobs and vital public services.
The recent Government settlement confirmed that the council now needs to save £54.9 million by 2013-14. The bulk of these savings must come in 2011/12, with the council needing to find savings of £31.1m when it sets its budget next month - up £4m from the expected £27.1m.
Savings are being proposed from across the county council's budgets and the workforce will be significantly reduced. So far as possible, this will be through freezing vacancies and through voluntary redundancies.
There will, however, need to be some compulsory redundancies. In order to keep these to a minimum, savings are being sought from staff's terms and conditions of employment across the board.
Members of the county council's Staffing Committee have agreed to formally consult Trades Unions on the following proposals to change staff terms and conditions:
- A requirement for employees to take 12 unpaid leave days limited to the calendar years 2012 and 2013. This will be reviewed in December 2013, with a possibility of extending the requirement depending on the council's financial position. In effect this would involve a salary reduction of approximately 4.6% across the board but compensated by a reduction in working hours.
- A reduction in payments made for unsocial hours work (e.g. payments for overtime, night, weekend, bank holiday, and standby working). A number of potential options will be considered during consultation.
- Withdrawal of the subsidised lease car scheme from 1 January 2012.
- A reduction in the period of salary protection from three years to one year in cases of redeployment to a lower paid job from 1 January 2012 onwards.
The consultation period will begin on 24 January 2011 and will end on 26 April 2011. During this time, any equalities issues will also be carefully analysed.
The county council's Member for Corporate Resources Spencer Flower said:
"We see this as a constructive way forward in dealing with our financial challenges and in doing so preserving jobs and services. It is crucial that we seek to save as much as possible in ways that protect jobs and the valuable services we provide for the people of Dorset.
"The public quite rightly expect us to do all we can to protect frontline services, and these proposals are part of that. We will of course be talking in detail with staff and Trades Unions about the plans before any final decisions are made."
Proposals to change terms and conditions aims to save the council at least £4.4m (in each full year) from January 2012.
Dorset County Council's Chief Executive David Jenkins said:
"It is a difficult and anxious time for staff. Savings of this level are unprecedented and will inevitably lead to the council having to manage with fewer people.
"By reviewing the terms and conditions of employees, we hope to be able to protect services and reduce the number of further redundancies required.
"Since December 2009 we've operated strict controls on recruitment with a recruitment freeze from October 2010."
Detailed budget proposals for 2011/12 will go before the Cabinet on 2 February, before final decisions are made by all 45 members of the county council on 17 February.