Council sickness report shows council staff ‘want to come to work’

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Council bosses have praised their employees after reviewing the annual sickness absence report - saying it showed ‘people want to come to work’.

Hartlepool Council finance and policy committee found the borough had the second lowest short and medium term sickness percentage in the Tees Valley.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Hartlepool Borough Council leader Christopher Akers-Belcher.

Long-term illnesses made up 70% of the total absences from council staff, with 30% for short and medium term issues.

The report found an ageing council workforce was a key driver for the sickness trend,  with approximately 25% of staff aged 55 or over and the number of young people comparatively low.

However council bosses were pleased with the overall figures and it set out aims to continue to improve the rate going forward.

Chris Little, council director of finance and policy, said: “There is a high percentage of long-term sickness and 70% of that is one off.

“We haven’t got a a short-term sickness problem, it shows people want to come to work.”

Complex, serious conditions such as cancer, surgery and recovery, poor mental health and musculoskeletal conditions were responsible for many of the long-term issues.

Meanwhile the main causes of short and medium term sickness were minor illness, musculoskeletal and domestic stress.

In total 70% of the sickness for the council was accrued by 277 employees, representing approximately 12% of the workforce.

Going forward measures are to be put in place to further improve the rate, with councillors backing initiatives being delivered such as support sessions, staff help and an increased focus on mental health.

Coun Kevin Cranney said: “This has always been one of my concerns.

“I’m really pleased, we are now getting in place health and wellbeing champions who can work with staff.

“If we can put preventative measures in place that can really benefit us.”

In December this year council bosses will undertake visits to neighbouring authorities who achieved good performance in sickness absence management.

In March next year the council will review its own sickness absence policy and manager’s guide.

Nic Marko, Local Democracy Reporting Service.