Neath Port Talbot Council is launching an indefinite period for employees to seek voluntary redundancy for the first time, having previously only offered it for a set period each year.

The local authority said the change in approach was needed to cope with ongoing financial cuts.

Over the last 12 months there were 170 job losses at the council – 81 of which were voluntary redundancies, nine were compulsory redundancies and 80 were moved into alternative jobs at the council.

At a personnel committee meeting on Monday, September 9, officers said all council employees would receive a letter this month – with the exception of those employed by school governing bodies – seeking expressions of interest in voluntary redundancy.

Officers said enabling staff to express interest in voluntary redundancy on an ongoing basis would provide more flexibility to management teams managing workforce change.

A report which went before councillors said a consultation has already taken place with trade unions on the arrangements.

School employees, however, will remain with a “window of opportunity” to take up voluntary redundancy due to the budget-setting process.

But the scheme is due to open earlier than in previous years, in early January and close by the February half-term.

Head of HR Sheenagh Rees said the scheme enabled the council to avoid compulsory redundancies as much as possible and had been very successful.

The total costs of voluntary redundancy packages are limited to the equivalent of 52 weeks’ pay for the employee concerned.