THE number of sickness days by staff at Hartlepool Borough Council are on track to be lower than the target set for the year.
In the first three months of the current financial year the figure for all staff - including schools - was 6.89 days off sick per whole time equivalent employee against a target of 7.40 days.
It may still seem high, but it is still a sharp reduction from 2006-07 when the figure was more than 13 days per worker.
Officers highlighted the work being done to reduce the number of sick days and praised staff for the improvement in the figure year on year. The report was discussed by members at a meeting of the finance and policy committee.
Andrew Atkin, the council’s assistant chief executive, said: “The report provides details of employee sickness absence for the first quarter of 2014-15 and actions taken across the council to achieve this.
“Members are advised that the target figure for 2014-15 was 7.40 days absence per whole time equivalent.
“The actual sickness rate at the end of the first quarter showed the council’s performance was 6.89 days per whole time equivalent per employee per annum.
“There has been continuous improvement year on year, as detailed in the council’s annual sickness absence statistics.”
Mr Atkin added that the council continued to focus on sickness absence management to ensure the council achieved its target. Council officials say the extent to which staff are absent from work due to illness has a direct impact on the quality, level and cost of services.
Mr Atkin added: “The council will continue to focus on sickness absence management to try and achieve its 7.40 wte average sickness per employee target at the end of the reporting year.”
The figure excluding school staff was even better, with Hartlepool recording a sickness rate at the end of the first quarter of 7.25 wte per employee per annum against a target of 8.90 wte.
A report said the figure identifies there is an “overall downward trend in sickness absence rates across all departments” compared with the last three years.
Committee members noted the employee sickness absence rates for the first quarter of 2014-15.