The unacceptable face of absenteeism

Sep 19 2004 by Brian Amble Print This Article

The Sunday Telegraph reports that the town of Corby has one of the highest sickness rates of any local authority in the UK.

Official figures show that while some councils have an average absenteeism rate of just four sick days per employee per year, Corby's rate is ore than four times this.

Council employees in the former steel town of Corby, where drab 1960s buildings reflect years of depression, each took an average of 17 days off ill - nearly three and a half working weeks - in the 12 months to March, a sharp rise on the previous year's total. In the past 12 months the authority has handed out £350,000 in sick pay, equal to the annual council tax revenue from 2,500 homes

We would advise the hapless Corby council to take a look at the scheme adopted by York City Council, which uses experienced nurses to handle calls from employees who report in sick.

Astonishingly, the York scheme is the first attempt by a public body in the UK to introduce a sickness absence management strategy that manages and monitors staff health and wellbeing.

Given that public sector sick days cost the UK taxpayer £4bn a year - the equivalent of an extra 1p on income tax Ė shouldn't ALL public sector bodies be introducing schemes like these?

Just getting public-sector absenteeism rates down to the same level as the private sector would save £1bn a year.

Sunday Telegraph | Why does working for Corby council make so many people ill?