STAFF at Carmarthenshire Council can buy up to 10 days extra leave per year for the first time.

Council chiefs hope the new additional leave policy will improve employees’ work-life balance and also reduce the authority’s pay bill.

Deputy leader Mair Stephens said at an executive board meeting that all requests for addional leave would be subject to the needs of the particular service where an employee worked.

“It cannot be guaranteed that all applications will be agreed,” she said.

The new policy applies to all council staff except those employed by local authority-managed schools.

The report approved by the executive board said several other councils have an additional leave scheme including Cardiff, which has saved more than £390,000 over the last three years.

It is hoped that sickness absence rates will decrease as a result of the new policy.

The report said it was difficult to predict how much money the council would save, but said that a 3% take-up rate by staff would reduce costs by just under £118,000 annually.

Executive board members were also told that the council is expected to hit its revenue and capital budgets by the end of the 2018-19 financial year, which ended on March 31.

The revenue position up until December 31 last year indicated a £2.3 million departmental overspend, due to costs relating to the communities, environment, and education and children departments.

Executive board member for resources, councillor David Jenkins, said there remained “significant pressure points” but that the predicted overspend at December 31 was “significantly lower” than the previous quarter.

Providing an updated position, chief executive Mark James said: “It’s fair to say that we will be at or under budget come March 31.”

Mr James added that the Welsh Government had recently provided the council £2.5 million for school maintenance, which would be carried through to next year’s capital budget as the money had already been spent.

Referring to latest outlook, he said: “There has been quite a bit of movement in the last couple of weeks.”

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