Civil Service shirkers exposed by statistics

Central government HR has come under fire after official statistics revealed
civil servants took 50 per cent more sick leave than private sector staff last
year.

The Cabinet Office report on civil service absence shows that two-thirds of
staff took at least one day off due to sickness in 2002.

The report criticised government departments and agencies for failing to
recognise the importance of effective management and not understanding staff
attitudes or behaviour.

It warned that without serious improvements in management, it is unlikely
the figures will improve.

According to the figures, the Employment Service had one of the worst
records, with staff taking an average of 13.5 days sick leave each last year.

The Employment Service has since been amalgamated with the Department for
Work and Pensions (DWP), which now stands accused of forcing a ‘performance
system’ on staff to remedy the situation.

The Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) accused the DWP of bullying
and said the new initiative gives 130,000 civil servants a 2.6 per cent pay
rise but penalises those who take more than five days off a year.

A spokesman for the PCS told Personnel Today that the department was using
bully-boy tactics and ‘penalising people for having babies’.

"The Government is saying we need to increase skills, but these
measures will punish people who go on study leave," he said. "The
number of staff at the DWP is reducing and the workload is increasing – no
wonder morale is at rock bottom."

The DWP said the new measures were designed to reward those who put in the
most effort. It also said the department would not introduce anything that was
illegal or discriminatory.

By Michael Millar

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