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

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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