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Havering Council trials new staff sickness hotline to cut down absences

PUBLISHED: 11:26 04 August 2016 | UPDATED: 12:25 04 August 2016

Havering Council are to trial a new hotline to monitor staff absences more closely.

Havering Council are to trial a new hotline to monitor staff absences more closely.

Archant

Havering Council is cracking down on excessive levels of staff non-attendance by introducing a pilot absence monitoring scheme.

From October, unwell council employees in three departments will be required to phone a specialist hotline manned by medical professionals on their first day off.

At a meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board on Wednesday night, it was revealed that Havering Council lost 10.5 working days per employee in the last 12 months, a three per cent rise on last year.

Now, the council’s Human Resources department has identified Streetcare, Catering and Grounds Maintenance as the three best departments to trial the new hotline.

Mark Porter, operational team manager for human resources at the council, outlined the plans to councillors at the meeting.

He said: “This is an opportunity to make sure we send the right message to people right at the start of their absence, yes we take illness seriously, but they’re not going to be able to swing the lead.”

The scheme, which will run for six months, is aiming to track and monitor patterns of staff absence, and flag up suspicious activity to managers via email.

One case study presented to the meeting involved a member of staff on the council pay-roll taking nine separate days off “for his grandmother’s funeral.”

However, some councillors did express concerns about the plan.

Residents’ Group leader Cllr Ray Morgon criticised the wisdom of such a large expense when the borough is already paying managers to monitor staff absence.

He said: “It sounds like we’re trying to outsource because we don’t have managers that can do the job.

“It’s almost as if we’re saying, if you can’t handle some of your responsibilities, we’ll pay for someone else to.”

Cllr Viddy Persaud had a problem with the ethics behind introducing the new system.

She said: “We have to be very careful not to harass people who are genuinely ill.”

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