Agenda item

Sickness absence

Members will discuss the sickness rate, categorisation of sickness, trends and turnover.


Neil Moverley presented the report on sickness absence statistics and analysis and explained that the Council measured sickness absence using a standard calculation utilised by local authorities which resulted in an average absence of 10 days per SKDC employee for 2018/19.  Overall short term absences (classified as under 4 weeks) had decreased but long term absences (classified as over 4 weeks) had increased.  It was worth note that the Council’s workforce included both office and operational services (such as refuse collection and street scene) and it continued to hold social housing stock and repairs services whereas a number of the comparison local authorities had transferred these services. Human Resources had a range of pro-active measures in place to manage sickness absences.  


Councillor Wood requested clarification on the reasons for the 8.8 days per employee as an average for absence. 


Neil Moverley explained the pro-active measures in place should have the effect of reducing long term absences from the Council’s current position.  Whilst the Council was slightly higher on average than the national average for long term absences, its short term absence position was lower than the national average.  By reducing the impact of long term absences, it would reduce the overall sickness absence average locally.


It was also noted that the measures introduced by Human Resources to reduce long term absences included early referrals to Occupational Health and liaison with individuals to find the right solution to assist them.


Councillor Kelly asked whether account was taken of both full and part time staff when compiling the statistics.


Neil Moverley explained that the statistics were compiled on the basis of full time equivalents.  However, it would be possible to provide figures in the future for both part time and full time employees.


The Chairman asked what actions were taken in respect of those cases where incidents might be caused whilst at work.


Neil Moverley explained that work related incidents involved accident investigations under health and safety and discussions with line managers on steps to be taken including additional training. 


Aidan Rave added that one of the top three reasons for long term absences which was stress and depression and the Council had taken robust measures to ensure options were in place to identify and support the mental health and well-being of its staff.   Looking after the mental health and well-being of staff had economic and reputational benefits for the Council as well as staff themselves.


Councillor Goral asked whether the costs of absences had been identified. 


Neil Moverley confirmed that the average cost of absences could be provided.


Councillor Kelly asked whether the Council conducted exit surveys after staff had left the Council.


Neil Moverley confirmed that exit surveys were carried out as part of the leaving process but they were not conducted after employees had left.  However, Human Resources were always looking to improve their practices.


The Chairman asked how often training and refresher training occurred.


Neil Moverley explained that training was provided on induction of new employees and refresher training took place throughout the year.  Human Resources also met regularly with line managers to review training needs within teams.  In addition, supervisors in operational areas carried out monitoring to observe that health and safety and safe working practices were being observed.  Regular communications with managers and teams also featured these important matters,




  1. To note the sickness absence statistics for 2018/19; and
  2. To feedback the comments discussed at this meeting together with a request for more action to be taken on return to work interviews to ensure these were carried out as a means of managing sickness absence and to identify any measures needed to assist returning employees.

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