Council reports reduction in staff sickness absence

Latest council news.
Latest council news.

The council has reported an overall reduction in sickness absence amongst its more than 300 employees.

But while the drop in long and short term absence has been welcomed by some councillors, one representative says the local authority needs to do more to reduce absenteeism further.

A report on the issue was presented to the Policy and Governance Committee meeting on Monday, September 1.

The report reveals that the average number of days lost per employee is down from 13.95 in 2012/13 to 12.48 in 2013/14. However, that’s still more than 4,540 days lost to sickness during the last financial year.

The report reveals that sickness absence among Newtownabbey Council workers is at its worst between January and March.

The council has implemented a number of initiatives in recent years aimed at reducing sickness absenteeism, and Sinn Fein Cllr Gerry O’Reilly praised officers and staff for their efforts in assisting people to return to work in the short and long term.

Reflecting on the figures, UUP Cllr Mark Cosgrove welcomed the reduction in sick days, but stressed the huge cost of absenteeism to the council and its ratepayers.

He expressed concern at the more than 4,500 sick days among a few hundred employees, many of whom have had no days off sick. And he described 12.48 days on average as “a very, very significant figure”, stressing that a private business couldn’t survive with such a high level of absenteeism.

“I welcome the progress that has been made, but a massive amount of work still needs to be done going forward,” he told the meeting.