Average council worker takes 11 days off sick

The council's Mossley Mill headquarters. NT43-006FP
The council's Mossley Mill headquarters. NT43-006FP
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THE average Newtownabbey Borough Council employee took almost 11 sick days in the space of eight months councillors have been told.

At April’s Policy and Governance meeting councillors were informed that the average employee took 10.95 sick days between April and December 2012.

Of the 361.81 “full-time equivalent staff” working during that period 3,956.64 days were lost due to sickness.

The average figure of 10.95 days lost per employee was an increase on the same period the previous year despite the amount of staff working for the council decreasing.

Between April and December 2011 there was 4,140.65 sickness days taken among the 382.26 staff which was 10.83 days per the average employee.

Long term sickness between the two reporting periods increased. In 2012, 2,998.52 days were lost to long term illness, which was 76 per cent of the overall sickness record an increase of 45.09 days. In the previous year 2,953.43 days were lost or 71 per cent.

Reports of short term illness decreased between the two reporting periods. In 2012, 958.12 days were lost, which represented 24 per cent of total sickness during that period and a reduction of 229.09 days. In the previous year 1,187.21 days were lost which was 29 per cent of overall sickness.

The report presented to councillors also showed that the end of the year was the most likely time a member of staff would call in sick.

In October 2012, 8.24 days were lost to sickness, 9.83 were lost in November and 10.95 reported ill in December. While in October 2011, 8.48 days were lost to sickness, 10.08 were lost in November and 10.83 were lost in December.

The council did not report on the number of staff who did not take any sick leave during the two periods.

During the meeting the council was congratulated for its efforts to reduce overall sickness levels. However, council chief executive Jacqui Dixon said she felt the figures were still “out of kilter” with what they should be.

She said: “There are a lot of different reasons as to why the levels have increased. Cancer related cases have increased this year and as you can understand that is very serious.

“We have also brought in counsellors to help support staff through absence with the hope of reducing overall sickness levels.”

Following the meeting the council issued the following statement: “The council has supported a number of health and wellbeing initiatives focussing on the top five reasons for absence.

“Because of this, there has been a significant reduction in the number of absences relating to musculo skeletal problems which has almost halved in number.

“However, long term absences due to stress, depression and cancer cases have increased.”

The statement added: “There is scope to improve to help the management of absence and to this end work is underway with the trade unions. The employee engagement and wellbeing programme is well underway and the council is holding an employee health fair in the Theatre at the Mill, where over 25 health and wellbeing stalls will be present.”