Shropshire Council's 7,000 staff have been told they face reduced working hours and pay, to save 400 jobs.
Chief Executive Kim Ryley said staff could benefit from more flexible conditions.
The council said the plans, which include reducing sickness leave and cutting overtime, would save £7m over three years.
A union official said negotiation was needed to make the proposals "more reasonable".
A 90-day consultation process has begun.
Public sector union Unison said it was seeking legal advice and would be balloting its members for their views on the plans.
Unison official Patricia Wilson said staff understood savings needed to be made, but that there were alternatives to some of the proposals.
Mr Ryley said slightly better leave entitlement and flexible working conditions could be attractive to many staff.
"If a mother wanted to work more around school term times and less in school holidays, we could arrange that," he said.
Mr Ryley added that the council would save money by avoiding large redundancy payments.
Among the proposals, overtime would be cut and the first three days of sickness would not be paid.
The council estimated it would also save two hours pay a week for most members of staff.