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Volunteers complains about polling station pay

By Mike Cotton, Town Reporter Tuesday 27th May 2014

COUNCIL workers who volunteer to man polling stations and count votes 'get paid twice for the same day's work', according to a volunteer who thinks the system is unfair and needs reform.

Anyone who does election duties and works for the council is given paid leave from their normal job but also receives a fee for the additional duties. The same rule applies for all councils in the country.

However other employers - including Barnsley Hospital - require their staff to take a day's leave if they wish to perform election duties.

A former council worker, who still volunteers for election duties, said this isn't fair as the council staff are being paid twice, and also argues the jobs should be advertised to everyone, rather than 'cherry-picked' public sector workers.

"It's always been a 'nice little earner' for anyone working at the council. To me, I've always thought it was a bit immoral. You're basically getting paid twice.

"There are so many unemployed people, or people on low incomes, and I'm sure they'd jump at the chance to do this. Retired people who are looking for a day or two of work, they could do it, but they just don't know about it. It's not advertised."

Each polling station has a presiding officer and one or two poll clerks.

Presiding officers are paid £195, poll clerks £115, plus travelling expenses and money for any training they are required to attend in advance.

Postal vote counters get £7.50 per hour plus a flat fee of £15, and those who count once ballot boxes close are paid £80.

A council spokesman said: "Overall the returning officer requires the services of several hundred people. Polling staff are drawn from council officers and others with previous experience of polling duties.

"It is not feasible for the returning officer to advertise for large numbers of staff, interview them and be satisfied as they have the skills and experience to undertake these important public duties to support the running of the election.

"The council, in accordance with national terms and conditions for local authority officers, allows its employees paid leave for public duties."

The fees paid for election duties are refunded by the Ministry of Justice.