Council finds remedy for sick days

PUBLISHED: 11:33 08 June 2006 | UPDATED: 10:17 06 May 2010

BEDFORDSHIRE County Council says it has found a cure for staff sickness. A year ago the council held the unenviable title as the worst county council in the country for sickness absence. Staff clocked up an average of 14.14 days off for sickness during 20

BEDFORDSHIRE County Council says it has found a cure for staff sickness.

A year ago the council held the unenviable title as the worst county council in the country for sickness absence.

Staff clocked up an average of 14.14 days off for sickness during 2004/5 with the social services departments having the highest number of sick notes.

But the council's overview and scrutiny committee discussed on Monday how it is fighting the sickness absence bug.

Members read a report from Louise Goodwin, the council's assistant director for organisational change, which said the number of days staff are taking off through illness has fallen to an average of 9.39 days per person.

The report said a number of initiatives had been put in places in all council departments to tackle sickness absence. Among these is the appointment of an attendance manager to work within children's services, and a specialist human resources adviser who will focus on difficult cases of long-term absence and persistent short-term cases.

So far this has resulted in the closure of 11 cases with the majority of staff back at work.

Managers will be given absence management training with monthly reports on absence sent to both directors and assistant directors. Also, employees will now be required to self-certificate their absence from day one of sickness and face a new return-to-work interview.

The council says the entire existing procedure for sickness absence management has been revised and will be relaunched soon.

"This will provide pre-employment screening and medical assessment for referred cases and will develop and promote occupational health initiatives in response to identified needs, with the aim of contributing to reduced sickness absence and improved health awareness," concluded the report.

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