Frontline staff and apprentices at Cheshire East Council are to get a welcome pay boost after a series of announcements made today (Thursday, February 26).
Council leader Councillor Michael Jones told a meeting of Full Council that the authority is committing to the introduction of the Living Wage, which means that following a period of consultation, directly-employed Council staff at the lower end of the pay scale will earn a minimum of £7.85.
This will be a big lift for staff such as general assistants and catering assistants. Cheshire East is to consult with partners, including schools, on the move during the coming year.
In a double-whammy of good news, all apprentices employed by the authority are to receive pay rises thanks to a further funding commitment of £137,000. The new rates of pay will meet the national minimum apprenticeship pay rate for each age group.
The Council currently employs more than 50 apprentices.
Councillor Michael Jones said: “Our frontline staff work extremely hard for the taxpayer and they thoroughly deserve to be able to earn a fair wage which allows them to provide for themselves and their families.
“We will soon be consulting on the Living Wage with our partners but it is entirely the right thing to do, as is looking after our young apprentices.
“Apprentices are our future and we want to equip them with the skills to make a real difference during their working lives. Our apprentices are bright and enthusiastic people who deserve improved rates of pay.”
The Living Wage is based on the amount a person needs to earn to cover the basic costs of living and is promoted by the Living Wage Foundation. An independent study found 75% of employees reported increases in work quality as a result of receiving the Living Wage.
Meanwhile, Cllr Jones added: “We remain committed to ensuring we do not offer ‘zero-hours’ contracts, as they are often termed in the media.
“The Council is a dynamic business which has a number of roles where flexibility is required. We therefore offer ‘permanent variable hours’ contracts on local Government terms and conditions.
“These arrangements are regularly reviewed with the individual employees.”
Councillor Barry Moran, Cabinet member in charge of performance, said: “We do not restrict any workers’ wish to work for other employers if they only work a few hours for Cheshire East Council.
“Some services have a fluctuating demand for staff, such as seasonal work at Tatton Park. We offer permanent variable hours contracts to meet these needs and adopt good practice set out by the CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development).”
He added: “This is all great news for our staff. We pride ourselves on being a Residents First Council but we also highly value our workers.”