South East finance sector staff feeling the strain

Civil
servants took 50 per cent more sick leave than private sector staff last year,
with two-thirds taking at least one day off because of sickness in 2002, a
Cabinet Office survey has revealed.

On
average, civil servants took 9.8 sick days last year, compared to 6.5 days in
the private sector. Female civil servants took more sickness absence than their
male counterparts, with 2.8 more working days sick a year.

In
all, the service lost 4.9 million working days to sickness, up from 4.2 million
in 2001, costing the taxpayer £370m.

The
cost of absence per individual was up from £727 in 2001 to £736 last year, and
the average number of spells of absence per staff was up to 1.7, compared with
1.6 in 2001.

The
Employment Service, now part of the Department for Work and Pensions, was one
of the worst offenders, with staff taking an average of 13.5 days’ sick leave
each last year.

The
report also criticised government departments and agencies for failing to
recognise the importance of effective absence management techniques, and not
taking staff attitudes or behaviour seriously enough.

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