Inflexible councils lose staff early

Local authorities’ lack of flexibility is pushing staff into taking early retirement.

Research published this week shows that of those retiring early from the sector, large numbers said they would return if working conditions changed and employers were more flexible.

The report comes after the scathing response to a central government crackdown on sickness retirement in the public sector (Personnel Today, 18 July).

Almost half of the 1,050 respondents to the Socpo/TMP Worldwide survey said they would go back if they could work part-time or on a consultancy basis.

Nearly three in 10 said they would continue if they could work from home. And over a third said they would have preferred to stay on, but working conditions forced them out.

Ill-health is confirmed as the main cause of early retirement.

The findings push HR to think imaginatively about work patterns following the Government’s demand to reduce ill-health retirement in the public sector.

Terry Gorman, assistant chief executive at Nottinghamshire County Council and Socpo president, said that most ill-health retirement is linked to stress or musculoskeletal problems.

Both could be reduced if organisations were quicker to act on work pressures. “Councils need to look at lightening people’s duties or putting them in other jobs,” he said.

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