Equality to add £1.25m to council salary bill

PUBLISHED: 14:26 10 January 2008 | UPDATED: 12:45 06 May 2010

Cllr Chris Oxley - staff may have to be redeployed

Cllr Chris Oxley - staff may have to be redeployed

A MAJOR rejig of council salaries stemming from an equal-pay review will cost more than £1.25 million to implement. Staff costs represent at least 50 per cent of the total costs of running St Albans District Council so the bid to bring about parity in its

A MAJOR rejig of council salaries stemming from an equal-pay review will cost more than £1.25 million to implement.

Staff costs represent at least 50 per cent of the total costs of running St Albans District Council so the bid to bring about parity in its pay structures has serious budget implications.

The pay review carried out in consultation with Unison, the public services union, seeks to eliminate historic inequalities in salary levels so that women or disabled staff are not disadvantaged.

However the outcome means that more than 20 per cent of staff will benefit from salary increases but another 20 per cent will find their salaries frozen until parity is achieved. The remainder will stay broadly the same.

Those receiving pay increases will have them backdated to April 1, 2007.

The district council is having to set aside £310,000 per year over the next three financial years to cover the additional costs plus the one year backdated to last April. The council's Portfolio Holder for Resources, Cllr Chris Oxley, said the strain on council budgets would also be exacerbated by the need to make up a shortfall in their pension fund due to a downturn in the stock market.

He said: "It runs counter to our policies to make redundancies but there is no doubt efficiencies and savings will have to be made. We have a 10 per cent staff turnover anyway, but where necessary staff may have to be redeployed."

Councils across the country are facing big bills in order to compensate women who have been underpaid compared to their male counterparts over a number of years. No-win-no-fee lawyers have been winning large sums of money for clients nationwide who have been underpaid.

St Albans council's pay and grading review flags up the possibility that the issue of back pay could have potential financial implications if equal pay claims are lodged.

But Cllr Oxley said this was unlikely as there are no known cases.

n A spokesperson for Herts County Council said: "We completed our review in 2001 in accordance with a national agreement which came in several years ago and within a year we had reached an agreement with the trade unions and implemented it. As an authority, we continue to monitor pay awards and if we do identify any issues, work to resolve them quickly.

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