Much Wenlock Town Council’s Finance & Resources Management Committee meeting agenda for 24th April concludes with item 16 on the agenda – “To consider and approve how to deal with the Town Clerk’s untaken annual leave for 2017/2018”. Presumably the Clerk hasn’t been denied leave by the Town Council over the past twelve months so it’s simply a matter of good planning on her part to squeeze at least five weeks’ leave into a 52-week year. Or not.
We don’t know what options the Committee is going to consider, but it’s worth remembering that this isn’t the first time this has happened with this Town Council – and with this clerk. It may have occurred subsequently but, back on 26th April 2011, the Town Council’s Finance Committee considered a similar issue and recommended to the full Town Council meeting that “the holiday pay should not be paid [in lieu of holiday] because the present Employment Contract makes no provision for this.” The Committee went on to recommend that “the Town Council asks the Personnel Committee to review all of the Town Council’s employees’ holiday entitlement, so that they include a clause that annual leave can be carried over into the next financial year. The amount of leave to be carried over needs to be agreed.”
At that stage, the Town Clerk had accumulated many hours of overtime and had not advised the Town Council periodically of the cumulative liability. The Town Council knew overtime had been worked, but had no grasp of the hours involved.
The conclusion seems to have been that, at its meeting of 5th May 2011, a one-off “without prejudice” cash offer was made in respect of overtime, and pay in lieu of untaken leave was refused.
Rolling forward seven years, there may be new policies in place as regards leave but, if pay in lieu is out the question, we’d hope that the Committee understands the Town Council precedents. And Croner, the employment specialists, say “The Working Time Regulations 1998 do not specify that annual leave can be carried forward. This is because the purpose of the law is to ensure that employees take sufficient rest, and not taking their annual leave is not achieving this. You should aim, therefore, for employees to take all their leave within the leave year.”
Finally, if the leave hasn’t been taken because of the Town Clerk’s workload, maybe a reassessment of the staffing requirement is necessary. Although it would be strange if additional hours were needed so soon after one office position was declared redundant.