Somerset

Somerset Council drops forced unpaid Christmas leave plan

Somerset County Council headquarters at County Hall in Taunton Image copyright Google
Image caption Somerset County Council is struggling to balance its budget

Plans to force staff to take two days' unpaid leave this Christmas have been abandoned by a cash-strapped council.

Somerset County Council wanted employees to take two days off between Christmas and New Year for the next two years in a bid to save nearly £500,000.

The authority needed to save £19.5m in 2017/18 but only made cuts of £11.1m.

In a letter to employees, the council said it would "not be progressing the proposal" after the scheme was rejected at ballots by trade union members.

The authority announced in September it planned to save up to £28m by 2019/20.

'Voluntary leave scheme'

The emergency savings measures included job losses, cutting major services and unpaid and "forced leave" for staff, meaning council offices would shut down over Christmas.

But in a letter sent to all staff, the authority said it had decided to drop the compulsory leave plan but would be opening a voluntary scheme instead.

"We are still planning for county hall to close over the Christmas week and managers have already been working on what this means for their teams," the letter said.

"The proposed savings from the unpaid leave proposal have been put into individual service area budget plans for this year and next, which means that budgets will have such reductions built into them."

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