STAFF working for Calderdale Council are to receive much lower payments if they are made redundant, councillors have decided.
The council's Governance and Business Committee last night voted to reduce redundancy payoffs from a current maximum level of 104 weeks' pay to a new limit of 52.
A cap of 500 per week will also be introduced with a view to scaling-back payoffs to senior members of staff. The changes mean that the maximum redundancy pay off that any Calderdale Council worker can expect in future will be 26,000.
The committee's vote was tied at three in favour and three against before the council's deputy leader and committee chairman Tim Swift gave it the nod with his casting vote.
A separate motion by Conservative members of the committee to impose a limit of 30 weeks was defeated.
Following the meeting Coun Swift (Labour) told the Yorkshire Post that the council was trying to "strike the right balance" between ensuring a fair deal for staff and impacting upon council services.
"Most councils have gone for a 30 week limit but we wanted to recognise that the majority of council staff are earning in the region of 18-22,000 a year, so we were better off trying to do something that gave these people a little bit more."
Coun Swift added that changing the terms and conditions of staff's employment contracts was not something the council was doing willingly but the current economic climate meant finances needed to be tightened. The 104-week maximum was introduced in 2007 when redundancies were less commonplace in local government.
"Council staff being given high- level payoffs sends a message regarding local government which is very damaging. "
A spokesman for Leeds Council said its redundancy payment levels would remain unchanged while councils in Bradford and North Yorkshire were unable to confirm their levels of payments yesterday.
The maximum benefit for Leeds council staff approached in September last year about redundancies was 30 weeks pay for someone who has worked for the council for 20 years.