Scores of staff members furloughed by County Hall during lockdown, report reveals

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich and Tom McCabe, the head of paid service. Picture:

Norfolk County Council at County Hall in Norwich and Tom McCabe, the head of paid service. Picture: Neil Perry/Supplied - Credit: Neil Perry/Supplied

Scores of county council staff members were placed on furlough during the Covid-19 lockdown, it has been revealed.

Norfolk county council workers in areas which lost out on income during the pandemic were placed on furlough, with more than half having now returned to their jobs.

Staff members from the music service, museums, and Outdoor Norfolk were placed on furlough, as well as nursery employees and staff at the registration service, which documents marriages, births and deaths which take place in the county.

A report looking at the lessons learned from the pandemic so far will go before cabinet members on Monday, August 3.

READ MORE: Coronavirus means council staff told they will be working from home into 2021

And one of the areas the council is set to discuss is issues affecting staff members, who were recently told they will not be returning to their offices for work this year.

The report states: “In line with government advice we recently furloughed around 200 seasonal and casual workers who are not funded through public funding.”

And a council spokesman said: “The county council has used the job retention scheme to safeguard the jobs of people who work in privately funded services which lost income due to Covic-19.

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“This includes around 200 members of seasonal staff, who have had furlough periods ranging from six weeks to at least four months from March to August.”

He added: “More than half of these staff are now back at work.”

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Those who haven’t yet returned - where services remain closed or partly closed - remain furloughed with their situation kept under review as the situation and the government advice develops.

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The spokesman added: “All council staff, including those on furlough, have had their jobs and full pay guaranteed during the three month lockdown period.”

The cabinet report also addressed issues facing staff who had remained in work.

It said: “Well-being and absence in a time of isolation and heightened anxiety has been a further area of focus.”

The council said it had tracked absences and “levels have thankfully not been adversely impacted nor have we suffered any death in service”.

Staff were redeployed in some areas to support voluntary or community activities, while the re-opening “placed unprecedented challenge on a small health and safety team undertaking risk assessments and updating guidance for all work settings.”

READ MORE: Councillors accused of taking credit for county’s low rates of coronavirus

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