Invercargill City Council is today making changes to a proposal regarding staff pay during COVID-19.
Chief Executive Clare Hadley said following feedback from staff on the proposal, it was decided that all staff would continue to receive Pandemic Leave for the current pay period (ending Sunday 10 May).
“Our proposal was made at a time where there was significant uncertainty around how long our staff would be unable to return to work. It would seem that, with decreasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, and the successes so far of Alert Level 4 and 3, that we may be at Level 3 for a much shorter period of time than that which we had planned for,” Mrs Hadley said.
“As such, the Council’s Executive Leadership Team have decided that continuing to pay staff pandemic leave for another pay period is acceptable.”
The previous proposal was that all staff unable to work would be paid 50% of their usual income, staff able to work part time would be paid 75% per cent of their usual income, and those who were able to work their usual hours would be paid as usual.
Those in either the 50% or 75% area would be able to top up their income using annual leave available to them.
The proposal came following four weeks of pandemic leave, where all staff were paid their normal income.
Mrs Hadley said the vast majority of staff impacted by the proposal had given positive feedback, and indicated they were happy to be receiving a reduced level of pay given that they were not working at full capacity.
“We are grateful to those staff who supported the proposal – for their understanding of the difficult circumstances, and our desire to preserve funding for the benefit of all ratepayers,” she said.
“It is important to consider the situation in which our entire community finds itself, and to balance any potential impacts on staff, with impacts on our community. It’s unfortunate that despite us working hard to find this balance, we have been unable to reach an agreement with the PSA at this time.”
She said Council’s Executive Leadership Team was considering the increasing likelihood that New Zealand may be moving to Alert Level 2 within a matter of days, and that helped form the basis of the decision.
“We will continue our dialogue with the unions and other employees in case that doesn’t happen, or if Alert Level 2 prohibits some employees from returning to their normal duties,” she said.
Meanwhile, redeployment opportunities for staff continue to be investigated and implemented.
“New health and safety requirements and the continuation of physical distancing measures means that there are some departments which require more staff to continue to provide their service,” Mrs Hadley said.
This means that while some parts of Council may not be able to fully operate for some time, staff from those areas may be redeployed to other departments.
“As with all employers in Invercargill, we have been tasked with finding our way through an unprecedented situation.
We remain committed to being fair to all our staff, whether they are union members or not, and balancing this with being fair to our ratepayers.
As New Zealand continues to find its way forward through COVID-19, so too will we – and this might mean that our proposals will need to change again,” Mrs Hadley said.