The first of two 'super' playgrounds in Watford is now open - thanks to £1.4million investment by the council.
Sick pay changes agreed
Plans to cut back on the sick pay given to Hertfordshire County Council staff have been agreed with the union Unison.
Under the proposals, from April 2012, workers won't get paid for the first two days they are off ill. The length of time over which sick pay can be claimed will also be cut back from six months full-pay and six months half-pay to four months full-pay and four months half-pay.
The Council are making the move to try and cut their yearly pay bill by nearly £7m. The move will affect people who work in council departments, but does not affect teachers or firefighters. Special arrangements will apply for pregnant women who are ill as a result of their pregnancy, or people who are disabled.
The agreement will now be subject to a consultation ballot by Unison which will run from 8 April to 26 April 2011.
Caroline Tapster, Chief Executive of Hertfordshire County Council, said: "We have already put into place efficiency measures that over the next four years will save the council £135m, but we need to do more in order to safeguard front line services. Changes to our employment package, including the way we pay staff for sick leave, have the potential to generate substantial savings for the county.
"Discussions with UNISON have been complex and I'm pleased that we have been able to reach an agreement in principle which, once signed, will be contractually binding for all affected employees. Our intention throughout has been to make any changes with the support of the unions. This latest successful round of talks with UNISON and resultant agreement in principle is a really positive step.
"Both UNISON and the council believe that this is the best agreement that can be achieved through negotiation and that it provides a responsible balance between the need to find savings and protect jobs and frontline services. We will now wait to see how the UNISON members respond to the ballot.”
If the ballot supports acceptance of the collective agreement, then councillors will make a final decision in May on whether to introduce the new terms and conditions. If agreed they will be introduced from April 2012."
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