Council’s tough measures cut employees’ sick leave

A tough approach to sickness absence at the Royal Borough of Kensington and
Chelsea is saving the council half a million pounds a year.

Figures released last week show that the council has cut the average days
lost to sickness from nearly 10 per person per year to eight in 2001.

The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, which has an annual wage bill
of £100m, will not pay staff for days that they take off if they do not inform
their line manager that they will not be in by 10am.

If a member of the council’s 2,800 staff takes 10 days off in 12 months they
will be called to an absence review meeting and will then be monitored for the
next three months.

If the absence rate does not improve, a warning will be issued and
ultimately the employee can be sacked, although in its first year of operation
no staff member has been.

The council has also implemented preventative measures including health
screening, fast-track access to a back pain clinic and a free flu jab.

George Bishop, personnel director at the Royal Borough of Kensington and
Chelsea, said, "The balance of the hard and soft- edge policies has been
important. Trade unions agree with the procedure and the line managers have
stuck to it.

"This has meant no member of staff has pushed it, been stupid and
forced us to take action."

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