Transport force arrests sliding sickness levels

British Transport Police has introduced a range of measures to try to combat
the worst sickness absence levels of all forces in the country.

A report by Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary (HMIC) heavily
criticised sickness levels at British Transport Police and said previous
attempts to reduce absence had failed.

The force lost an average of 16.8 days per officer in 2000/01, while sickness
among support staff increased to 12.7 days.

Assaults on officers only accounted for a small percentage of the figures,
which are five days higher than the national average.

David Adams, HR director of the force, told Personnel Today the situation was
already improving. "The HMIC report was completed in the middle of last
year and we have taken action since to remedy the problem," he said.

"We’ve had a Best Value review of attendance management which resulted
in a business improvement plan of 31 recommendations. This is showing signs of
improving attendance already."

Adams believes one of the reasons for the appalling absence figures among
the 2,100 officers and 600 support staff was that the sickness absence policy
was not being consistently applied.

In response, the force has brought in defined responsibilities for line
managers and a single policy covering all reasons for absence.

"We introduced a new policy and organised a series of seminars for
managers, emphasising their responsibility for attendance at work," Adams
said.

www.homeoffice.gov.uk/hmic/btp2001.pdf

By Ross Wigham

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