Crackdown on council sick list

PUBLISHED: 12:31 23 June 2006 | UPDATED: 21:57 28 May 2010

STAFF at Fenland District Council clocked up 8,500 days off sick last year. The council s 700 or so employees were each expected to take just 8.3 days off for ill health but ended up taking on average 11.51 days each. But the council says the sickness lev

STAFF at Fenland District Council clocked up 8,500 days off sick last year.

The council's 700 or so employees were each expected to take just 8.3 days off for ill health but ended up taking on average 11.51 days each.

But the council says the sickness levels have been detected because it is now using a more rigorous recording system.

Councillor Ken Mayor, the council's portfolio holder for quality organisation, said the council fully expected a blip.

"We have set a realistic target of an average of 12 sickness days for next year, but we have put in place a range of policies that will reduce this down to a genuine eight days a year over three years," he said.

"We have just established a special team to proactively address sickness levels. This now includes training managers to manage sickness absences by conducting return-to-work interviews, home visits, a close monitoring of staff sickness

levels and supporting people with personal difficulties, such as family breakdowns and bereavements to minimise the danger of subsequent illnesses."

Cllr Mayor said there was also a new stress policy and the council was training managers to recognise early signs of stress in their staff and to deal with it before it becomes a problem.

In 2001/2, staff sickness accounted for 7.89 days off per employee but by 2002/03 the figure had dropped to 6.44.

The council will increase next year's target to 12 days off for ill health and hopes to reduce it to 10 days the following year, and eight days by 2008/9.

Chief executive Tim Pilsbury delivered the news to cabinet yesterday as part of a "best value performance plan" for 2006/7.

His report shows how staff sickness levels at Fenland continue to rise following the average 10 days off sick recorded by employees in 2004/5, but states: "Improved management of sickness absence since last year has resulted in a significant increase in the levels of absence reported.

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