Dorset County Council staff face 12 days unpaid leave

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Dorset County Council staff will have to take 12 unpaid leave days under plans to save £55m by 2013/14.

Five hundred jobs are set to go, which was first announced in December, while pay for unsociable working will also be reduced under the proposals.

The bulk of the savings (£31.1m) are expected to be made in 2011/12 with the budget to be agreed on 17 February.

Staff and unions will be consulted on the changes to working conditions which are expected to save at least £4.4m.

The unpaid leave days, limited to the calendar years 2012 and 2013, would be on top of employees' normal holiday entitlement.

The Conservative-run authority said it would freeze vacancies and seek voluntary redundancies, but some forced job losses were inevitable.

'Anxious time'

Some of the savings could come from replacing council-controlled school lollipop patrols with volunteers and closing libraries.

Councillor Spencer Flower, member for corporate resources, 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."

David Jenkins, chief executive of Dorset County Council, 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."

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