Stress costs councils £500m in workers’ sick leave

Council workers in England and Wales took on average more than two days off work because of stress last year, costing more than £500m.

Figures published by the Local Government Association (LGA) revealed council employees took almost five million days off in total for mental health problems including depression or anxiety – the equivalent of more than 13,300 staff being off every day with these problems, the Daily Mail reported.

The LGA said 23% of the 9.6 sick days each worker took off each year was for stress-related conditions.

While council workers took on average 2.2 days off sick with stress, the police took 1.55 days.

The 145,000 police officers in England and Wales were shown to take 225,000 days off for stress in 2008, costing £37m.

Private sector employees on average take 6.4 days off work sick each year.

The Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development said the high levels of sickness absence in the public sector were due to “softer-edged” absence management than in the private sector, partly as a result of more widespread union membership.

A spokesman for Local Government Employers, said: “Local government has one of the lowest rates of sickness absence for any part of the public sector.”

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