Tough measures fail to stop high sick leave rates

HR is failing to cut the high absence rates in local government, according
to a study released exclusively to Personnel Today.

The survey Sickness Absence in Local Government 2001 shows that for the
third successive year staff are taking 9.6 days off sick each per year. Social
services is one of the worst hit areas, with sickness absence rates of nearly
15 days per employee.

This is despite the Government’s launch of tough absence targets that public
sector organisations have to hit by 2005, such as 6.8 days off for staff in
shire districts. The average absence rate in the private sector is 7.2 days.

Rob Pinkham, deputy executive director of the Employers Organisation for
Local Government, said: "Local government has a payroll of £35bn payroll,
so if you can reduce absence rates by 1 per cent it’s easy to see how
productivity would be increased and money would be saved."

Rita Sammons, head of personnel at Hampshire County Council, said HR needs
to develop effective support for the genuinely sick, and also tackle the
underlying reasons for serial absenteeism.

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