Essex County Council has denied there is a link between wedding bookings being postponed and a restructuring of registrars’ terms of employment.

The council, which supplies registrars to non-religious venues, says high demand created by postponed ceremonies due to Covid-19 has meant it has had to stop taking new wedding bookings until October.

But the decision coincides with proposals for registrars to become permanent employees on annualised hours contracts.

But the move has been branded a money-saving ploy.

One source, who wished to remain anonymous, added: “Even if Essex County Council u-turns on this restructure, realising the timing is unworkable and postpone it until the autumn, the goodwill of wedding registrars has already been decimated.”

The council said it could not say how much money it is expecting to save from the restructure or what will happen to those staff who decline a permanent contract.

But it denied there was a link between the operational decision and the consultation.

A council spokesman said: “The proposals detailed are for the sessional ceremony officers to become permanent employees of Essex County Council on annualised hours contracts.

“We know many of our ceremony officers want this.

“It is important to note the consultation is still active, no decisions have been made.

“The proposal within the consultation is exactly that, a proposal and is not set in stone.

“The purpose of a consultation is to gain feedback from our sessional ceremony officers who might be affected and use this feedback to inform a decision.

“As with any contract review, should the proposal within the consultation be agreed, then the sessional ceremony officers will be given the option to accept or decline the permanent contract offered to them.

“The current consultation will not affect weddings already booked. Couples that have existing bookings should not be concerned; all existing bookings will go ahead as planned.

“We are increasing our capacity with the recruitment of additional temporary ceremony officers.

“Couples are now able to book again for ceremonies taking place from October 2021.”