Parliamentary Public Accounts Committee slams absence rates at Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency and Driving Standards Agency

The parliamentary Public Accounts Committee (PAC) has slammed two government agencies for “astonishingly high” sick leave rates.

A report by spending watchdog the National Audit Office found the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and Driving Standards Agency (DSA) reported an average staff sickness absence rate of 13.5 days in 2005 and 2006 – well above the Civil Service average of 9.8 days annually.

PAC chairman Edward Leigh said: “Sick leave is taken at an astonishingly high rate in some of the Department for Transport agencies. It’s disappointing that overall very little progress has been made by the department in bringing sickness absence down in recent years, despite a number of initiatives being introduced.”

The Department for Transport (DfT), which oversees the agencies, said sick leave tended to be higher at the DVLA for women, shift workers, and those in comparatively lower paid jobs, while absence rates at the DSA caused by musculoskeletal injury cases were relatively high.

The DfT has a target of reducing sickness absence rates by 30% on 2004 levels of 10.7 days by 2010.

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