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Cash saved as county council workers ‘buy back’ their holiday
HUNDREDS of council workers have taken part in a scheme to “buy” annual leave back from taxpayers - with the move saving £122,000 in just six months.
A total of 165 staff from a possible 4,200 at Worcestershire County Council have opted to buy extra holiday from the authority since April.
Under the Annual Leave Purchase Scheme, they can book up to three weeks extra time off a year and get the corresponding pay docked from their wages.
Council chiefs say they plan to carry on with the policy and insist it has helped stop the authority from making more jobs cuts since it launched two years ago.
During the first year of operation 190 employees took up the offer, saving the public purse a total of £148,000.
Councillor David Thain, cabinet member for transformation and change, said: “We try our best to give the staff the most flexibility we can, and that includes working from home where possible, as well as more leave if they request it.”
Union chiefs say it has proved popular but are concerned about the impact it has on the staff who do not take advantage of it. At the moment, employees are required to take an extra three days unpaid leave anyway on top of their statutory entitlement.
Steve Brown, from the Worcestershire branch of Unison, said: “I think it’s great for the staff who have taken advantage of it.But there is general concern anyway about job cuts, posts being vacant and people being asked to take an extra three days unpaid leave.”
As your Worcester News reported last week, the authority expects to scrap 650 jobs by 2017, on top of the 857 posts already being axed.
The council is trying to hand over as many services as possible to external providers – known as ‘commissioning’ – to save cash. That could mean the private sector, not-for-profit bodies, voluntary groups or any other organisations which strike a deal.