Day off for royal wedding will cost SBC over £62,000

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AFTER agreeing today on a package of measures to bridge a £13million funding gap in the year from April 1, Scottish Borders Council will be asked to back additional spending of £62,242.

For that, according to an internal report, is the cost to the cash-strapped local authority of the extra day’s holiday incurred by the forthcoming royal wedding.

Both the UK and Scottish Governments have announced there will be an additional one-off holiday on Friday, April 29, for the nuptials of Prince William and Kate Middleton in Westminster Abbey.

But the report, from Erick Ullrich of SBC’s human resources (personnel) department, suggests it is for the council to decide if its employees should get the extra day off.

Councillors will hear that their full-time employees with more than five years’ service are already entitled to 39 days of annual leave, including the fixed public holidays at Christmas, New Year, St Andrew’s Day and May Day.

The extra day’s leave for the wedding would thus bring that total to 40 days – the equivalent of eight working weeks – in the current calendar year.

Staff with the local authority for less than five years are currently entitled to 34 days of leave.

Mr Ullrich warns: “There is a risk that by not granting this additional holiday, this will have an adverse effect on employees, especially if neighbouring councils grant the holiday.”

He also cautions that if the holiday is agreed and the delivery of services disrupted, this news must be communicated to the public.

But he reminds members that the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities (CoSLA) “advises that councils are likely to want to find a way to ensure employees benefit from this extra day to celebrate the event and that councils may experience adverse implications if this is not granted”.

And Mr Ullrich states: “Councils that grant this additional one-off holiday should ensure anyone required to work on April 29 is recompensed in accordance with relevant enhancements.”

He recommends that the council grants the holiday, that those who have to work get time off in lieu and that part-time staff are entitled to the extra leave on a pro-rata basis. However, in line with SBC policy, anyone absent due to sickness on April 29 will not be entitled to recompense.

He asserts that the £62,242 cost of the holiday can be met from within the council’s revenue budget.

If the holiday is approved today, director of education Glenn Rodger will apply to the Scottish Government for the number of school days this year to be reduced from 190 to 189.

“The Scottish Government has confirmed this will be looked on favourably,” says Mr Ullrich.