High sickness levels at Hull City Council

March 08, 2012 4:08 PM

Last year the leader of Hull City Council, Cllr Steve Brady, said he was in talks with the unions to reduce the number of sick days taken by staff. Looking back at notes I made at a full council meeting, he said current sick absences must be reduced from the current 6% to 3%.

A report in the Hull Daily Mail yesterday revealed this battle is far from won. There are currently 160 members of staff who have been on sick leave for over six months. In 2010/11 (excluding teaching staff) the average number of sick absences per member of staff was 13.1 days. This is more than double the national average in the private sector, which currently stands at 6.4 days. Cllr Brady had this to say:
"It's a very serious issue and one I am very frustrated about.

"Although we seem to be moving in the right direction, the number of people on long-term sick is still far too high and if you compare overall sickness levels at the council with the private sector you are looking at two very different worlds.

"I have worked in the private sector and there is a different attitude to getting people back to work after being off sick.

"I'm not saying rush everyone back but something is not right when the sickness rates are still way above what they are in the private sector. There shouldn't be a difference at all."

The excuse given by council officers is that many staff are currently not working because of stress, post-operative care, and manual handling. There has been redundancies at the council. Some are facing an uncertain future, but council workers are not alone in this.

Those who work in the private sector are facing the same problems and challenges. They also suffer from stress, are absent from work due to operations, and suffer work related injuries. Despite this, they still take off far fewer sick days than workers in Hull City Council.

Unacceptably high levels of sickness impact on council services, and cost taxpayers dearly. It is very refreshing to read Cllr Brady's comments, although he must back-up his words with actions.Last year the leader of Hull City Council, Cllr Steve Brady, said he was in talks with the unions to reduce the number of sick days taken by staff. Looking back at notes I made at a full council meeting, he said current sick absences must be reduced from the current 6% to 3%.

A report in the Hull Daily Mail yesterday revealed this battle is far from won. There are currently 160 members of staff who have been on sick leave for over six months. In 2010/11 (excluding teaching staff) the average number of sick absences per member of staff was 13.1 days. This is more than double the national average in the private sector, which currently stands at 6.4 days. Cllr Brady had this to say:
"It's a very serious issue and one I am very frustrated about.

"Although we seem to be moving in the right direction, the number of people on long-term sick is still far too high and if you compare overall sickness levels at the council with the private sector you are looking at two very different worlds.

"I have worked in the private sector and there is a different attitude to getting people back to work after being off sick.

"I'm not saying rush everyone back but something is not right when the sickness rates are still way above what they are in the private sector. There shouldn't be a difference at all."

The excuse given by council officers is that many staff are currently not working because of stress, post-operative care, and manual handling. There has been redundancies at the council. Some are facing an uncertain future, but council workers are not alone in this.

Those who work in the private sector are facing the same problems and challenges. They also suffer from stress, are absent from work due to operations, and suffer work related injuries. Despite this, they still take off far fewer sick days than workers in Hull City Council.

Unacceptably high levels of sickness impact on council services, and cost taxpayers dearly. It is very refreshing to read Cllr Brady's comments, although he must back-up his words with actions.

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