Council redundancies readily compensated

CARMARTHENSHIRE Council has been re-hiring some staff who took voluntary redundancy or early retirement but not before they’d been gone for at least a year.

Like all authorities it has had to cut the wage bill to help make ends meet and offering staff a paid early exit – like in the private sector – is standard practice.

Details for the last three available financial years show the council spent a total of £7.47m on voluntary redundancy and early retirement costs for 273 employees.

During this period 72 former employees were re-hired but only three on a full-time basis. The remainder were part-time or temporary positions.

A council spokeswoman said: “Employees who voluntarily leave under this scheme cannot work for Carmarthenshire Council again in any capacity, including on a casual basis, until at least one year has elapsed.”

Staff departure costs for the latest financial year were not available but the council said only four former employees were re-hired in this 12-month period.

Swansea Council lost 513 staff through voluntary redundancy and early retirement between 2016 and 2019, with voluntary redundancy costs totalling £11.6m.

Only 16 of these staff have been re-hired – all part-time and temporary – and mostly by schools, which are responsible for their own staffing arrangements.

The figures follow a Freedom of Information request by the Local Democracy Reporter Service.

A Swansea Council spokesman said early retirement or voluntary redundancy staff could not be re-employed by the authority within six months of leaving and they could not do the same or a closely-related role to the one they left.

He said the scheme was a very effective way of reducing the pay bill because it took just over a year an average to recoup the costs, with those savings embedded year on year after that.

Departing Swansea staff could receive 30 weeks of full pay and early access to their pension, although there was a period when they could receive 45 weeks of full pay as an extra incentive.

The spokesman added: “The benefit of our approach to early retirement and voluntary redundancy is that we can avoid compulsory redundancies as much as possible.”

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