Hertfordshire County Council to consider extra day’s holiday to as ‘thank you’ to staff

A decision is expected to be made next month

Friday, 16th October 2020, 9:13 am
Updated Friday, 16th October 2020, 9:14 am

Bosses at Hertfordshire County Council are to consider giving every one of their 8000 staff an extra day off – in recognition of their efforts during the Covid-19 pandemic.

On Friday, October 9, the “enormous effort” and contributions made by staff were highlighted to a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee.

Many of those staff will have played a direct role in supporting those affected by the pandemic through their council roles, in areas such as adult care, public health or childrens services.

Hertfordshire County Council offices

Most staff have had to work from home since the start of the lockdown in March – at times juggling caring and home-schooling responsibilities.

And during the early months of the pandemic 200 council staff who were available to work – but not able to undertake their regular roles – were redeployed to other roles.

Some of those redeployed staff took part in ‘Operation Shield’, others took on admin roles or became gate monitors at waste recycling centres.

And a number of firefighters were even redeployed to the East of England Ambulance Service.

Assistant director of human resources Sally Hopper told members of the overview and scrutiny committee that ‘thank you’ messages, cards, emails and certificates had already been used to recognise the contribution by staff.

Pin badges are being designed for staff as a symbol of the role they played in the council’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

And there are plans for a new ‘Herts Applause’ system for employees to send online cards.

But it was also reported to the committee that consideration was being given to giving staff an additional day’s leave too.

“When engaging with our recognised union, Unison and staff colleagues more widely, such a move would be well received but nothing final has been agreed and the idea remains under consideration,” says the report to the committee.

According to the report, if agreed it would be likely to be a fixed day – for example Christmas Eve – with exceptions for those who could not take this day due to their roles.

A decision is expected to be made by next month (November). However the report recognises that a disadvantage of awarding an additional day’s leave is that, in some cases, staff have a higher than anticipated leave still to use.