Agenda item

Scrutiny Review - Sickness Absence (Agenda Item 8)

Report of the Deputy Chief Executive.

Minutes:

The Training and Development Manager presented the report and circulated an additional paper showing a graph giving monthly comparison figures of overall sickness levels covering the years from 2006 to the present date, from which it could be seen that there was an overall downward trend.

 

The Training and Development Manager summarised the key elements of the sickness management policy and procedure, as outlined in paragraph 3.1.2 of the report, which included, amongst other things, requirements for return to work interviews to be conducted after every period of absence regardless of length or overall record; trigger points requiring a manager to review an employee’s absence levels and an informal and formal approach to managing sickness absence once trigger points had been reached.

 

The top three reasons for sickness absence were noted as:

 

  1. Coughs / colds / ‘flu’
  2. Anxiety / stress (work and/or personal)
  3. Back problems

 

One of the Human Resources’ objectives for 2009-10 was to implement a well-being scheme for staff to encourage healthier lifestyles.  The first stage of this would be aimed at training for managers on “Tackling Stress in the Workplace”.

 

In noting the report, a Member was pleased to note that training on stress management was being introduced.

 

While being pleased to note the decrease in overall absence rates, Members were interested in receiving comparator information with the other Norfolk local authorities, noting that the overall absence figures equated to a sickness absence rate of two weeks per member of staff per annum, notwithstanding that these figures were comparable to those in the private sector.  It was felt the use of comparator data would help identify trends and improve benchmarking, as well as ensuring targets were both realistic and challenging.

 

Another Member felt that there should be a clear review date indicated in the policy document.

 

Members discussed a number of factors influencing absences due to illness and it was noted that there were opportunities for staff to work from home where feasible in appropriate circumstances, for example to avoid the spread of coughs and colds or due to physical injury (such as a sprain or fracture) preventing them getting into the office.

 

The Commission concluded that it would be useful to look in more depth at the issues affecting sickness absences and the steps being taken to address them and reduce absence rates, as well as looking at comparison information for benchmarking purposes and target setting for the future.

 

Accordingly, it was

 

RESOLVED that <1<

(1)         a Task and Finish Group is set up to review sickness absence, to look in more depth at the issues affecting sickness absences and the steps being taken to address them and reduce absence rates, as well as looking at comparison information for benchmarking purposes and target setting for the future;

(2)         Mrs. S.M. Matthews be appointed as Chairman of the Group;

(3)         the Member Development and Scrutiny Officer be authorised to invite nominations from the non-executive Members of the Council to complete the membership of the Task and Finish Group.

Supporting documents: