Council is to take a tough stance on sickness absence

Oxford City Council is launching an initiative in a bid to reduce its high
sickness absence rate by more than 4 days a year per employee by 2006.

Paul Warters, head of HR at the council, said the current sickness absence
rate of 11 days per staff member cost the council £1m in 2002, and had a
disastrous effect on staff morale and council services.

Under the initiative, Oxford is to take a tough stance on consistent
short-term absence by its 1,400 staff through increased return-to-work
interviews.

Each department will be set regular improvement targets so the council can
reach the Government’s targets of 6.8 sick days per employee by 2006.

Staff that take more than 5 per cent of working days off will be questioned
and given health and diet advice.

The profile of the occupational health department will also be increased,
and for £15 a year, employees and their families can swim at any of the
council’s four leisure centres.

Warters believes the move will reduce sickness absence, alth-ough it will
take some time.

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