Backlash against sick pay reduction at Northamptonshire County council results in U-turn

Northamptonshire County Council has backed down over plans to not pay the first three days of sick pay.

Northamptonshire County Council has backed down over plans to not pay the first three days of sick pay.

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A backlash against plans to reduce the amount of sick pay received by Northamptonshire County Council staff has resulted in a U-turn by the authority.

Previously the council proposed changing its staff terms and conditions so the first three days of sick absence would not be paid.

However, due to strong pressure from staff, trade unions and opposition Labour councillors, this has now been dropped from three days to one day.

In an email sent out to staff from the chief executive of the council Paul Blantern, he admitted: “I know that one area of the sick pay scheme which continues to cause concerns for many of you is that the first three working days of absence are no longer paid.

“I have listened to your concerns and read your feedback and recognise that – although this practice is becoming the norm in many industry sectors – it was never going to be popular.”

It goes on to say “Instead of deducting for the first three working days, we will reduce the impact of this policy on employees by making a deduction for the first day of absence only. I would like nothing more than to make it none, but this is simply not affordable.”

The U-turn has been welcomed by the county’s Labour group.

Councillor Danielle Stone said: “The county council has at long last seen the error of its ways and reduced it to just one day. This is common sense and a step in the right direction.

“I understand that the council still has to cut £148 million over the next five years, due to the Conservative Government’s austerity agenda, but hacking at staff terms and conditions is not the way to do it.

“Our staff are the most important asset and its time (leader) Councillor Jim Harker realised that.”

A Northamptonshire County Council spokesman said: “We have reviewed the sick pay policy introduced two years ago and, taking into account feedback from staff, we’ve decided to revise the policy to make a deduction for the first day of absence only.

“We believe this revised policy takes into account the views of our employees while helping to address the serious financial pressures facing the authority.

“The policy will be subject to review again in March 2017.”