Colchester council puts staff on furlough during coronavirus crisis

Colchester is preparing to fulough some staff. Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL

Colchester is preparing to fulough some staff. Picture: COLCHESTER BOROUGH COUNCIL - Credit: Colchester Borough Council

Colchester Council has become the first in the area to furlough some of its staff as a result of the coronavirus crisis – but some others are expected to follow its lead over the next few days.

Some of Colchester Council’s staff have been working from home and others have taken on different roles.

Some staff at Colchester Leisure World have joined the Helpline and waste services teams while parking enforcement officers have been supporting neighbourhood services and cemetery and crematorium operations.

However, the council will now furlough some staff who cannot currently fulfil their roles because they are vulnerable and shielding, caring for relatives and unable to carry out work from home, or because they cannot be redeployed to other service areas.

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Colchester’s furloughed staff will continue to receive full pay, with the council topping up the 80% contributed by the government. And, as soon as opportunities arise, they will be asked to return to a role within the council as quickly as possible. They will also be encouraged to volunteer for Community 360 and the Foodbank during their furlough, if they can.

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Colchester chief executive Adrian Pritchard said: “Everyone has worked so incredibly hard over the last few weeks to ensure council services continue to be delivered to our residents and the most vulnerable in our community.

“I’d like to make it absolutely clear that those who have been furloughed remain part of our valued staff.

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David King, Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, added: “Despite the recent welcome news the council is to receive a further £1.94 million from the Government to help us deal with the immediate impacts of coronavirus, that aid meets only 20% of our likely losses this year. That is why we have made the difficult decision to furlough staff we cannot redeploy.”

Colchester and Ipswich councils run the museum services in the two boroughs and a spokesman for Ipswich said it was considering introducing a furlough scheme for some workers – but was still talking to its employees.

The furlough schemes are due to run until the end of June and Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak has said it will not be financially viable to retain the scheme indefinitely.

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