EXCLUSIVE: Northampton Borough Council staff told of possible changes to pay and conditions

Chief executive of Northampton Borough Council, David Kennedy
Chief executive of Northampton Borough Council, David Kennedy
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All 600 employees at Northampton Borough Council have been informed of potential changes to their pay and conditions which could result in some working longer hours for no extra money.

A letter was sent to workers from chief executive David Kennedy yesterday, Wednesday, informing them of five proposals which are aimed at saving £365,000 in 2014/15 and possibly up to £1.5 million in future years.

The proposals include freezing pay increases for the 2014/15 year; increasing the working week to 38,39 or 40 hours a week; and reducing the number of vacant posts from April 2015.

Another proposal is to introduce a new performance appraisal and rating mechanism to start in 2014/15 with a pay progression scheme to “reward individual high performance.”

The council is also proposing to introduce a new sick pay scheme from autumn 2014, which will mean employees get no pay for the first three days of absence and a flat rate of sickness benefit of 12 weeks full and 12 weeks half pay rather than six months full and six months half pay.

The final proposal is to introduce local pay negotiations, as opposed to national negotiations, from 2015/16 onwards.

In the letter Mr Kennedy stated: “No decisions have yet been made – it could be that all or some of the proposals, in their current or a varied form, are the ones that are taken further.

“These are unprecedented times for the council and we have difficult budget choices to make. We need to consider that these options are a way to protect both jobs and services.

“A combination such as this would achieve the required budget savings against employment costs for 2014/15 and address the ongoing requirement to make cost savings to help partly balance the budget for future years.”

Mr Kennedy said directors would hold employee briefing sessions throughout May. A decision on the proposals is expected to be made in June.

A trade union spokeswoman said employees were “generally not happy” with the proposals that would see them “working more for less money”.

Tonia Williams, regional Unison organiser, said: “This is not headlined as a pay cut but that is essentially what it is. There is no agreement with the trade unions on any of these proposals.

“We would certainly not recommend coming out of national terms and conditions.”

Ms Williams said the unions would be waiting until the council decided on what proposals it wanted to introduce before deciding whether to ballot members for strike action.

Northamptonshire County Council introduced changes to staff pay and conditions last year.