New policy cuts sickness absence at Westminster Council

Westminster City Council has hailed its restructured sickness absence policy, following a decline in sickness absence rates.

The new programme was introduced to the council’s 4,000 employees a year ago, and new figures reveal that annual absence rates have fallen from 10.5 days per employee to fewer than eight days.

The initiative includes an employee assistance programme (EAP), which provides a 24-hour telephone helpline operated by qualified counsellors and information specialists. Face-to-face counselling sessions are also available.

Trevor Webster, Westminster City Council’s strategic HR manager, said: “The EAP has helped us to build a profile of the needs of the council and its people, and subsequently we are able to target resources to areas of need.

“Managers have found the programme helpful, because they are not trained counsellors themselves and frequently prefer to be supported with personal issues by those that are professionally qualified to deal with them. The EAP facilitates early resolution of issues, which allows managers more time to concentrate on management areas such as departmental performance,” Webster concluded.

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