Equal pay wages to cost Ashfield District Council £660k a year

Ashfield District Council will have to find £660,000 extra each year to pay wages after councillors approved a scheme to give equal pay to its staff.

The Single Status Collective Agreement will give the council’s 500 staff equal pay for both men and woman.

Councillors also voted to expand a Living Wage Scheme, which was introduced by the authority last year, to cover more workers.

But former Ashfield District Council leader Jason Zadrozny has warned that the impact of introducing the equal pay scheme and the Living Wage in Ashfield will have a detrimental effect.

He said: “It’s a tricky one because in principle the equal pay is very good and I am fully for it. People doing the same jobs should get paid the same wage, that is great.

“It is a good idea in principle, but the first problem is that the council want to back pay everyone who is owed it to last year which will cost around £660,000.

“That is how much the council needs to save every year for at least four to five years.

“It is a huge sum to pay.

“Most of the council’s services are going to be hit hard and it is going to be challenging for everyone.

“People are going to lose their jobs. Every time someone retires or finishes, their jobs won’t be replaced. The council will continue to shrink.”

The Living Wage and equal pay scheme will mean lower paid workers are now paid £7.45 an hour.

Coun Zadrozny also said the initiative would mean that higher paid staff drop down to equal pay creating friction between staff.

“There is quite a bit of friction in the council at the moment with many thinking that this hasn’t been thought out.

“I’m a strong believer that people doing the same jobs should get paid the same, but what they should have done is orchestrated it better and explain to people that the wage would go up but the council won’t be able to employ 500 people anymore, it might be cut down to 400.”

Coun Zadrozny added: “Everything that is discretionary will have to be cut and when you leave what’s left those things are going to be up for review.

“Car parking charges are going to go up, cemetery charges have already gone up and many more will be affected.

“If we pay staff more, unfortunately we are going to have fewer staff which is a shame because we have very good staff at this council that care about the area and take pride in it. It is difficult because everyone should get a fair wage.”

But council leader Chris Baron insisted the impact on council funds will only be minor.

He said: “The cost for the district council will be a small amount since the amount of lower paid workers at the district council is not as many as at county council level.

“At county council level it includes dinner ladies and crossing patrols, but we don’t have as many lower paid staff.

“We have adopted the living wage principle and accept it will go through the backdating process and be a success.”

The changes were voted in earlier this year and will predominantly see the pay gap between men and women narrow

The changes will see 42 per cent of employees seeing an increase in pay, 43 per cent remaining the same and 15 per cent seeing a reduction in current pay.