Hartlepool council staff taking more time off sick

Hartlepool Civic Centre.
Hartlepool Civic Centre.
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The level of sick days taken by Hartlepool council staff increased over the last year.

Hartlepool Borough Council failed to hit its targets for staff sickness in 2015-16 and reported a small increase in time off.

The council continues to focus on sickness absence management to drive these figures down further

Andrew Atkin, assistant chief executive

The main reason is said to be down to workers suffering with long term health problems such as acute conditions, time off for operations, musculo-skeletal injuries and home-related stress.

At the end of March, the authority had a staff sickness figure of 9.06 days off per whole time equivalent employee for the year.

That was over the target set last year of 8.2 days per employee.

The council says it has a number of pro-active strategies in place to support staff when they need it and set the same target of 8.2 days per staff member over the coming year.

An annual report on employee sickness was presented to the council’s Finance and Policy Committee yesterday.

Assistant chief executive Andrew Atkin said: “The performance in 2015-16 hasn’t achieved the target we set. We missed by a bout half a day per employee.

“The council continues to focus on sickness absence management to drive these figures down further.”

Strategies in place to manage long-term sickness absence include home visits, referrals to occupational health services, counselling, physiotherapy, and phased returns to work.

Staff absences – not including those who work in schools – has fallen almost every year since 2009-10 when workers were taking the equivalent of 10.33 days each off per year.

Over the last year, staff who work in the council’s child and adult services department took the most time off at just over 10 days per whole time employee.

Councillor Kevin Cranney said he did not think the authority was pro-active enough when it came to mental health issues.

Mr Atkin said it was an increasing issue for many organisations and added the council offered confidential referrals.

He added: “That’s not to say we shouldn’t look at for doing other things and if we can tie in with other programmes.”