New post aims to improve sick rate

Croydon Borough Council is appointing a project manager to
reduce staff sickness absence.

The council’s annual average days lost through sickness is
currently 12.37 per person, compared to the London boroughs’ average and the
Audit Commission’s target for 2000/01 of 10.5 days. If the council achieved the
Audit Commission’s target it would save £622,000 a year.

Elaine Anderton, head of personnel services at Croydon
Borough Council, said, "The app- ointment of a sickness absence project
manager was an HR team idea. It was decided that due to the council absenteeism
record we needed to push the problem higher up the agenda." 

The project manager, who will receive £35,000 a year, is one
of the council’s measures to reduce absence, which include the introduction of
flexible working. Job shares, flexitime, authorised home working and compressed
hours (fewer days but longer hours) are being introduced.

"I expect to see the results of the project manager
within the year, with us meeting the Audit Commission’s targets," said

Terry Gorman, president of Socpo, said, "Local councils
are under a lot of pressure to meet government targets ñ by 2005 we are
expected to get the days of work due to sickness down to 9.1, which is almost

"I am surprised, though, that they feel the need to
employ an individual purely for the role of monitoring and improving sickness

The council will consult with unions next month and hope to
appoint their project manager in May.


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