Absence is not being managed in the public sector. Levels and costs are out of control and Sir Digby Jones was right to point out – in your news story ‘CBI calls on government to manage public sector sickness absence’ (PersonnelToday.com, 9 May) – that unless ministers act now, poorer frontline services and higher taxes will result.
There is no overview or transparency. Absence data is often linked to payroll, which means access to real-time live absence data is not available and early intervention, both managerial and medical, is not possible.
Consequently, public sector workers do not get the support they need and services suffer, because the rapid replacement of absent staff is impossible without consistent, standardised notification procedures.
However, there is a solution: e-government. Managing absence effectively must be part of this agenda.
It is only by getting rid of all the paper that the public sector is drowning in and holding, instead, centralised live absence data that the situation will improve.