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Havering Council staff sick absence on ‘worrying’ rise

18:00 28 March 2014

Havering Town Hall

Havering Town Hall

Archant

The average Havering Council worker takes nearly 10 sick days a year, it was revealed in a “worrying” report.

The council had aimed to reduce last year’s figure of 7.9 yearly sick days but instead the number shot up to an average of 9.7 in the third quarter of the financial year.

The figures were presented at the Town Hall cabinet meeting last week.

Leader of the opposition Clarence Barrett, of the Residents’ Group, said: “It’s a real worry. It’s gone up nearly two days in a year.”

The report does not outline whether it is staff taking individual days off or if there has been long-term sickness.

Cllr Barrett said: “Long-term sickness can be serious and needs our support. It’s the short-term sickness we need greater clarity on.

“I’m talking about the Monday and Friday sickness.”

The report notes that the numbers rose when Homes in Havering (HIH) was included in the statistics.

Cllr Barrett said: “The figures seem to have jumped up when HIH were added, but this may have incorporated a number of people with long-term sickness.”

Leader of the Labour group Cllr Keith Darvill blamed the pressures put on staff.

He said: “Difficulties from cutbacks and continued austerity is creating pressure on staff. If you are under more pressure then maybe that’s one of the factors causing sickness.”

Cllr Barrett added: “It’s up to employees to make sure staff aren’t in a situation where it’s going to make them ill in the first place.

“There’s more and more pressure on staff. We need to make sure we don’t put staff in the situation where they become ill.

“We need to end that vicious cycle.”

Cllr Michael Armstrong, cabinet member for transformation, raised his concerns of HIH.

He said: “HIH had historically higher sickness levels which are now being addressed.

“While that might explain the change, it does not excuse it. This is an unacceptable level of sickness and more robust management has been put in place to drive sickness levels down across the organisation.”

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