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Bradford Council sick days still high in summer – report
Long-term sickness accounts for nearly three-quarters of sick days in one Council department, according to new figures.
And the Council’s sick pay policy has been branded “very, very generous” by the Conservatives, who are calling for it to be reviewed.
Earlier this week, it was revealed that the proportion of people on long-term sick was on the up – from 52.91 per cent of total sickness absences in 2010/11 to 56.05 per cent in 2012/13.
And long-term sickness still accounts for 55.68 per cent of all absences, according to a new half-year update covering April to September 2013, a time of year where sickness rates are traditionally lower.
But the report, which goes before the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Wednesday, reveals:
- staff working in the Council’s Adult and Community Services have taken an average of 7.88 sick days in six months, the highest of any department and the equivalent of 8,039 working days lost
- in contrast, staff in the policy programmes and change department have only taken an average of 1.86 days off sick, just 195 days lost
- long-term sickness accounts for nearly three-quarters (73 per cent) of all absences in the Chief Executive’s office, which includes communications and the West Yorkshire Pension Fund
- in the six-month period, 60,413 working days have been lost due to sickness
- the most common reasons for sickness are sprains, fractures and muscular-skeletal problems, depression or anxiety, non work-related stress and colds, flu or viruses.
Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative group, said the Council’s sickness terms and conditions were too generous and needed to be brought more in line with those in the private sector.
He said: “I have no problems with people being off ill, but our payments for people off sick are very, very generous. That needs to be reviewed.”
Council leader, Councillor David Green (Lab), said: “There have been changes to the terms and conditions over the last three years.
“Are they very, very generous? They are most probably more generous than some in the private sector but then that doesn’t make them wrong.”
He said in any organisation of the size of Bradford Council there would be a whole range of issues to address, and they were working hard on improving the sickness absence rate.
On the long-term sickness rate in the chief executive’s office, deputy leader Councillor Imran Hussain (Lab) said the department was small so the sickness rates from one or two individuals could have a big effect on the figures.
The report says next month a pilot project starts in which physiotherapists will work alongside staff such as street cleaners and environment officers to help them prevent injuries.
Department breakdown of sick days per employee: Adult and community services 7.88; Environment and sport 5.94; Children’s services 5.68; Regeneration and culture 5.57; Public health 5.52; Chief executive’s office 5.46; Human resources 5.44; City Solicitor’s office 3.97; Finance 3.24; Policy programmes and change 1.86.
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