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Wednesday, 16 April 2014

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Carlisle council sickness rates set to drop this year

Sickness rates at Carlisle City Council are set to drop by a quarter this year.

Absenteeism rates rose sharply in 2011-12, prompting managers to launch a review of policy and procedures. Now the upward trend has been reversed.

Some 6,201 days were lost to sickness in the year to March, equal to 11.1 days for each full-time employee.

That compares with 9.3 per days per employee in 2010-11 and 8.6 days in 2009-10.

But figures for the first five months of 2012-13 suggest that the days lost total is on target to fall to 4,875, an average of 8.3 days per employee.

The national average for local authorities is 12.3 days.

A report to councillors says: “Based on the first five months, sickness absence could fall by over 25 per cent in comparison with last year.

“This can be attributed to five out of six directorates experiencing a drop in absenteeism and the proportion of absence that is long term – more than 28 days – falling significantly.”

The review led to changes in the way data is collected to ensure managers have up-to-date information.

And they have been told to stay in regular contact so that staff off sick “feel valued”.

More than a third of sickness (34 per cent) last year was due to mental-health issues. These include stress, depression, anxiety and neurasthenia – a psychological disorder characterised by chronic fatigue and weakness, loss of memory, and generalised aches and pains.

The second most common reason for being off was musculo-skeletal problems, followed by back and neck problems, stomach liver, kidney and digestion complaints, and colds and flu.

The local-government workers’ union Unison blamed the increase on job cuts, which mean remaining staff have a heavier workload.

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