Issue - items at meetings - Managing Sickness Absence
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Managing Sickness Absence
Report of the Strategic Director, Resources (copy attached).
RESOLVED - That the Governance Committee notes the report.
65.1 The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director, Resources concerning action taken by the council to manage sickness absence within its workforce and how performance compares with other local authorities over the last five years.
65.2 The Head of Human Resources & Development explained that pilot projects using additional resources had been successful in reducing sickness absences, but that improved levels could not be sustained once funding came to an end. The priority now was to sustain reduced levels of sickness absence and the new policy and electronic system designed to tackle this would come into force on 1 April 2011. Training would be provided to managers, who would automatically receive instant data of sickness and e-alerts when triggers were reached. A report on the progress of the new system would come to the Committee after six months.
65.3 Councillor Fallon-Khan expressed concern that improved sickness levels had not been sustained following the pilots. In his former role as Cabinet Member for Central Services, tackling absence had been a priority, with daily reporting and back to work interviews highlighted as necessary to combat stress in the workplace. He requested clarification as to why the impact of the pilots had not been built upon throughout the organisation.
65.4 The Head of HR&D explained that the pilots had been carried out using additional resources and that a team of 10 people had manually reported sickness absence information to managers instantly. This approach was too resources intensive and could not be sustained without extra funding. Subsequently implementation of an electronic system had been approved and this would go live across the April; it would supply managers with instant data without the need for extra resources and would mean the changes seen during the pilots could be sustained in the long term.
She also explained that HR worked closely with managers to bring conclusions to cases of long term sickness and make occupational health referrals where appropriate. She added that there were cases where managers had failed to inform HR that incidences of sickness had ended, but that this would be prevented in the new system.
65.5 RESOLVED - That the Governance Committee notes the report.