NEW figures show the number of sick days taken by council employees has seen a further reduction.
The first six months of this financial year reveal the average number of sick days is 6.84 per full-time employee, against a target of 7.50 days.
While the figure may still seem high, officers say it is a sharp reduction from 2006-07 when the figure was more than 13 days per worker.
This is the seventh successive year it has fallen, to the delight of councillors and officers who say employees being off ill has a direct impact on the “quality, level and cost of the provision of services”, so it is vital the figure is as low as possible.
Councillors praised the further reduction in the figures, which were as high as 13 days per employee six years ago.
The sickness levels were discussed at a meeting of the finance and policy committee.
A report said: “The target figure for 2013-14 for the council is 7.50 days absence per whole time equivalent employee.
“The actual sickness rate at the end of the second quarter shows the council’s performance is on target at 6.84 days.
“The overall figures still demonstrate a year-on-year improvement for the council, and the council continues to focus on sickness absence management to ensure achievement of its 7.50 average sickness per employee target.”
Andrew Atkin, assistant chief executive, said: “It is testament to the people we have here at the council and some of the support mechanisms we have in place.”
The figures for 2012-13 showed that overall the number of days sick per employee was 7.96, more than five days less than the high of 13.52 in 2006-07.
That figure has been cut further this year.
Labour councillor Peter Jackson, committee member, said: “The officers and the staff should be congratulated for the work that has been done.”
Council leader, Christopher Akers-Belcher said the finance and policy committee would send an email to staff to recognise their efforts to reduce the number of sick days.
Labour councillor Rob Cook said: “It is fantastic but do we know how many are on long-term sick?”
Mr Atkin said he didn’t have it to hand but said the senior management team regularly review long-term sickness and how staff can be further supported to come back.