Public Sector Sickness Absence in the Spotlight (again)

Thinking about my heritage I thought it would be interesting to review an article in the Scottish online magazine, The Courier, about stress being the main cause of sickness absence in Angus Council. The cost of direct absence for the council stands at £4m for FY11/FY12 – an increase of 5% on the previous year and stress-related reasons were given for absence in almost a quarter of claims which was also up from the previous year. In another article in the same magazine Fife Council workers averaged a day per month off for absence that’s an average of 11.8 working days per employee in 2011-12 and earlier this year it was revealed that Fife council paid £10 million in sick pay in only nine months during 2011. These figures are extraordinarily high, twice the private sector average and should be a concern to all tax-payers who, after all fund the public sector.

Employee absence has a huge impact on any organisation. It affects staff morale, disrupts the work of others, and reduces the quality of work output. Whether the absence is planned, incidental, or extended, it carries costs, risks and reduces productivity. To control the impact of absenteeism, organisations need to be able to see trends and need to manage absence policies so they can minimise compliance risk. They also need to identify workers with attendance issues and address them in real time so they can improve workforce productivity.

Implementing an automated solution for absence management brings an immediate reduction in the cost of absence and improved productivity that would easily support the deployment of the solution. An easily achievable reduction in the annual cost of absence of 2% would mean Angus Council would reduce their absence bill by £80K and Fife can easily save £200K in sickness pay! Whatever steps these and other organisations are already taking to address the causes of absence – “you can’t manage what you don’t measure” and without an automated workforce management solution to help support their absence policies, they are missing an opportunity to make cost savings, improve productivity and stop wasting taxpayers’ money.

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