Council’s sickness record among the worst in NI

Newtownabbey Borough Council's Mossley Mill headquarters.
Newtownabbey Borough Council's Mossley Mill headquarters.

NEWTOWNABBEY Borough Council’s sickness rate has been found to be among the worst of all Northern Ireland’s 26 local authorities.

The government auditor’s latest report on the running of councils found the average Newtownabbey council employee took just over 14 sick days throughout the 2010-2011 financial year.

Only four other council’s reported a higher level of sickness.

And Newtownabbey was also one of only five other councils which reported an increase in sickness during the year.

The council, which employs 391 staff, said the increase was down to long term sickness which was “serious” in its nature.

A statement to the Times said: “For the year ended March 2011, Newtownabbey Borough Council reported the average time lost per full time employee as 14.06 days and this was recently noted in the Local Government Auditor’s report.

“For the Council this was a rise in absence, which related mainly to an increase in long term sickness cases a number of which were serious in nature.

“For the year ended March 2012 the Council reported a decrease in the average time lost per full time employee at 13.38 days.

An employee engagement and wellbeing programme was introduced last year to help reduce absence and support employees to proactively manage their health and wellbeing.

“The programme has seen the implementation of a number of focused actions and initiatives to address the key reasons for absence across all council departments.

“Absence is currently continuing to decrease and the council is committed to managing this into the future.”

The auditor’s report concluded by advising councillors and officers of all councils to consider the findings and review how to approach the issues raised.

The Chief Local Government Officer, Louise Mason, said she believed her report would assist councils to improve on future management and governance arrangements.