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Staff sickness of 17 days per employee at council

2023-06-01 16:03:07 source:CBS News author:Press center4 click:227order

Staff at a local authority with the highest sickness absence record in Wales have been urged not to "beat themselves up" about it.

Figures show absences at Blaenau Gwent council rose in 2021/22 to almost 17 days per full-time equivalent employee.

The statistics were called "shocking" by one councillor, Ross Leadbeater.

But one senior official said they could reflect the high level of local health problems, and another councillor said Covid hit the area badly.

Head of organisational development Andrea Prosser told councillors that sickness absences had risen from 11.67 in 2020/21 to 16.74 in 2021/22.

Even when removing absences due to Covid-19, the figures rose from 9.98 to 14.2, above the council's target of 10 days per full-time member of staff.

Ms Prosser said: "When we compare with the all-Wales data, which is yet to be formally published, Blaenau Gwent continues to be the highest in terms of sickness within our workforce.

"We are keeping an eye on a nearby authority where they have replaced their managing attendance policy to focus more on wellbeing and we're keen to find out what impact that has for them."

In response to the figures, Mr Leadbeater called for immediate action to tackle rising staff sickness.

He said: "I find the report quite shocking. It's bad enough that we're at the bottom of the league table but worse than that that we've not reached our own target for five years. Something drastic needs to be done to change this."

However another councillor, George Humphreys, pointed to the potential long-term effects of Covid-19, according to the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

He told staff: "Even though it doesn't look good on our council, don't beat yourselves up too much, unfortunately Covid hit us very hard."

The council's chief officer for resources, Rhian Hayden, said the figures did not account for the "true" differences between local authorities.

She said: "Blaenau Gwent does have a particularly high level of health issues within its community and the vast majority of our employees come from that community.

"It is possible that our statistics are reflecting the general health issues of the local authority area."

A further briefing on the data as well as a report into the impact of working from home on staff health and wellbeing is to be delivered to council members.

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