The council is one of the first local authorities in the South West to put in place a national agreement to make sure the pay, as well as terms and conditions, for its full-time and part-time employees is fair.
Over the last year, the council has worked in partnership with trade unions (Unison, T&G and GMB) to review all pay and grading structures. The new arrangements will in particular recognise the valuable roles traditionally carried out by women - such as home care workers.
The whole exercise has been carried out in partnership with the trade unions (GMB, T&G and UNISON). This cooperation has been critical to the success of the whole exercise.
Many other local authorities across the country are now carrying out a similar exercise and the county council is helping staff understand how their grades and pay might change in the short and long-term.
County councillor Liz Boait said: 'This exercise has been long overdue, and I believe will now recognise equality throughout the council. It is interesting to see that in a recent survey of councils it was found that many 'excellent' councils have also taken this step. We intend to work with all staff to create opportunities for them to progress within their individual career paths in the council.'
As part of the exercise, the council has taken the opportunity to modernise its complex and outdated grading structure. The number of pay grades will be reduced from 60 to 12 from 1 June 2003 and the new arrangements will be phased in over a number of months.
The Nati onal Single Status Agreement will harmonise the pay, terms and conditions of all county council employees covered by the National Joint Council for Local Government Services (Green Book Employees). This will include support staff in schools, social workers, engineers, accountants, home care assistants and caretakers.
Approximately 3,300 employees (a significant number of whom are part time) are likely to directly benefit from the scheme. The salaries of approximately 1,000 will reduce but the pay of existing employees will be protected for three years. During that time the county council will work with affected staff to look at potential redeployment.