Brentwood Council staff sick days well above national average

Staff at Brentwood Borough Council take far more sick days than the national average.

The local authority’s 298 staff took a total of 3,094.99 days off work in the financial year 2010/11, Freedom of Information figures requested by the Recorder show.

The figures mean each council worker took an average of 10.4 days off in the past year.

This is up from 9.5 days each in the 2009/10 year when the council employed 316 staff.

According to the Confederation of British Industry, the national average number of days off per worker is 6.4 a year.

‘Time and money’

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Council staff taking so many extra sick days will be costing local taxpayers’ time and money that should be spent delivering local services.

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“There is no justification for average sickness levels to be significantly higher in the public sector than those in the private sector.

“Those working at the council aren’t more prone to illness than the rest of the UK, many people will suspect they just think it’s easier to get away pulling a sickie.

“The council and its staff need to do a lot more to bring staff sickness down to levels normally found in the private sector.”

A spokesman for Brentwood Council said: “We have recently reviewed our procedures and have appropriate measures in place to deal with staff sickness.”

Four members of staff were on long-term sick leave – for more than six months – in the period.

The council could not give a breakdown of the reasons for staff absences.

Staff at neighbouring Havering, which employs 2,000 staff, took an average of 7.1 sick days last year, and said they have reduced absences from an average of around 10.