Havering Council staff take 10 sick days

Cllr Ron Ower

Cllr Ron Ower - Credit: Archant

Six Havering Council staff have been sacked in the last year for taking too many sick days.

The revelation comes as new figures show the average worker took more than 10 days off through illness last year, well above the national average of four.

The council said dismissing employees over the issue is the “last resort” and insists it is now carrying out “intensive work” to reduce the number of days lost to sick staff.

On average it has risen from 7.9 in 2012/13 to 9.6 in 2013/14 and now 10.2 – “consistently above” the council’s target of 7.6.

But since the end of 2013/14, when staff sickness peaked at 10.5 days annually, it has been slashed to 10.1 at the end of 2014/15. As of today it has fallen further to 9.9.

The council say this is down to a new programme it has implemented.

Human resource staff have been employed to specifically work with managers to follow procedures and healthy living is promoted through internal events and activities.

Most Read

Cycle and walk to work schemes and lunch time sports clubs have all been brought in to help tackle the problem.

It has also seen 32 people on long term sick absences leave the council.

Among those, 15 resigned, six were sacked, four left on ill health retirement and three were sacked for reasons other than sickness.

The authority now expects sickness figures to lower over the next two years. It projects an average of 9.5 days by the end of 2015/16 and 8.5 days by 2016/17.

Cllr Ron Ower, lead Member for oneSource management, said: “About this time last year, we put a plan in place to give staff and managers extra support around managing sickness to reduce the high levels of staff absence, and it’s working.

“We’ve seen a consistent decrease in the average number of days staff are absent and this is projected to fall further.”

The council now carries stress risk assessments when known staff might be going through a tough time, including when social worker Shighi Rethiskuma tragically died in May.

Assessments are also carried out when staff go off sick with common conditions, when they are offered additional support through an employee assistance programme.

Cllr Ower added: “We’ve been awarded the Healthy Workplace Charter by the Mayor of London. As they say, prevention is better than cure, and that’s where our focus is.”