Walsall Council Covid response workers getting unused holiday pay

“Crucial” council staff who aided Walsall's response to the coronavirus crisis clocked up hundreds of days of unused holidays as they worked through the pandemic.

Walsall Council has approved plans to pay out an estimated £125,000 for outstanding 437 days of leave which 17 senior employees did not book off.

Members of the town hall's personnel committee said letting them take it off before the end of their holiday year would cause business continuity problems.

Council leader Mike Bird called for a report on the issue after working with the officers to co-ordinate the authority’s response to the emergency over the past two years.

Senior staff raised concerns about the working time regulations, which require all employees to have 5.6 weeks of annual leave and bank holidays with no facility existing to be able to waive that.

But Councillor Bird said providing there was agreement with all parties and no coercion placed on individuals not to take time off then it would be acceptable.

“It is important to show we are within the law and that nobody is under pressure not to have their leave," he said.

“I was conscious of the fact, during the last two years, there were certain individuals I had regular contact with who were there all the time, day in, day out.

“The Government did allow some leniency with carrying leave forward for a period of two years, but if that wasn’t able to be taken we have a problem where individuals will be away from their place of work for an extended period of time.”

Walsall Labour group leader Aftab Nawaz said he supported the proposal.

Councillor Nawaz said: “It is a limited amount of people but those are crucial people who have enabled us a council to ensure our communities have been able to run and cope with the Covid pandemic.

“It is a one off. We can’t under estimate the value of these officers who have gone out of their way and done more than their normal hours of work.”

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