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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting - 1st July 2013

Report of the Leader

Sickness Absence Report - Financial Year April 2012 - March 2013

Purpose of the Report

1. To update members of the Cabinet with the sickness absence information for the financial year April 2012 - March 2013.

Recommendations

1. It is recommended that the report and the sickness absence outturn provided in Appendix 'A' are accepted.

2. The importance of the Management of Attendance Policy, achievement of targets and adherence to the Council's policy provisions is reinforced to all managers to respond to the previous years rise in the level of sickness absence.

3. That the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) for consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1. To bring matters to the attention of members of the Cabinet in line with corporate objectives.

2. To maintain challenging and realistic targets to improve the Council's current attendance rates within the workforce.

3. To seek the support of the Scrutiny Committee to maintain a continued focus on the management of absence throughout all services of the Council.  

Background

2. The Corporate Management of Attendance policy has been operational since October 2008 and has until the last financial year contributed to a sustained reduction in the level of absence across the Council.

3. This report sets out the absence figures for the financial year 2012/2013 for employees corporately employed staff and also those employed directly by schools.

4. The report acknowledges the work and commitment of managers and staff within those services which have achieved reductions in line with Service targets.

5. The report also recommends appropriate absence targets for 2013/2014.

Relevant Issues and Options

6. Sickness absence figures for the period April 2012 to March 2013 including both corporate and schools figures are as follows:-

 Absence   2012/2013.

 

Average days / shifts lost per FTE (Total)

 

 

 

 8.7 (days per employee) 

 

 

Percentage of lost time by FTE (Total)

 

 

 

3.3 (% of available work days)   

 

7. A more detailed analysis of the figures by Directorate and Service areas is attached at Appendix 'A'.

8. The figures for 2012/13 indicate an overall increase on last year's total absence figures from 8.17 to 8.70 days lost per Full Time Equivalent (FTE). This represents an overall increase in absence of 6.49% or 0.53 days lost per FTE employee.

9. Members are advised that there has been a small decrease in absence levels within schools (from 7.51 days to 7.05 days per employee) compared with an increase in absence levels for corporate staff (from 8.74 to 10.24 days). The combination of these has resulted in the overall increase in absence levels.

10. Members of the Cabinet will see from the information set out in Appendix 'A' that nine our of the twenty-one service areas achieved a sickness absence outturn within their published target for the year 2012/13.

11. Although the overall absence levels have increased, the proportion of absence attributable to long term as opposed to short term sickness has remained the same. Long term absence accounts for approximately 64% of all absence compared with 36% for short term intermittent absences.

12. The highest levels of absence remain concentrated within the Directorates of Social Services and Visible Services and Housing.

13. The main cause of absence within the Social Services Directorate last year was due to "operations and recovery" which accounted for 21% of all absence within that Directorate. In Visible Services the main cause of absence was "muscular skeletal disorder" which accounted for 20% of all absence. 

14. The absence levels in the above areas reflect the higher percentage of employees in front line and formerly designated 'manual' occupations with a higher potential exposure to health risks. Both services have a high number of posts that are subject to scheduled work programme attendance coupled with a requirement to undertake lifting/physical exertion (eg. refuse loader, gardener, home carer, etc).

15. Members will be aware that many of the absence incidents within the two service areas are often associated with recommendations for a phased return or alterations to duties. The latter issue is becoming more difficult to accommodate given the very nature of work and the demands inherent with the duties/responsibilities.

16. In response to the above, efforts will continue to be made to manage the sickness absence, support the early return of employees to work and where possible reduce the likelihood of absence through appropriate preventative measures. This will continue to include the implementation of occupational risk assessments and the provision of manual handling (and related) training.

17. Members will also be aware that the Department of Work & Pensions has advised of the establishment in 2014 of the Health & Work Assessment Advisory Service.  The role of the Advisory Service will be to "supplement" the work of General Practitioners which coupled with the work of internal Occupational Health may bring about speedier responses to long term absences. This will be helpful to the Council given the fact that 64% of absences are of a long term nature.

18. On the basis of the information set out in this report it is proposed that the absence target for the current and future years remain the same as those set for 2012/2013 (i.e. 8.9 days per employee). This will help provide a clear focus on sickness absence management whilst acknowledging the increasingly difficult financial climate and associated challenges facing local government.

19. In recognition of the implementation of restructures following the Senior Management Review in 2012 appropriate adjustments have been made to this report including a revision of the targets to take account of the changes.  Future annual sickness absence reports will include previous year's outturn to provide meaningful comparative data reflective of the existing management structures. 

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

20. The incidence of high levels of absence has significant resource implications and places constraints on the continued delivery of high quality service provision. The need to continue to maintain reasonable levels of absence will be important as the Council responds to ongoing financial pressures.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

21. The incidence of high levels of absence has significant resource implications and places constraints on the continued delivery of high quality service provision and presents a significant financial burden on available financial resources.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

22. All legal implications including the Human Rights Act and Data Protection Act have been considered within the implementation of the policy provisions.

Crime and Disorder Implications

23. The Council's attendance levels have an impact on the Council's ability to deliver its crime and disorder initiatives.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

24. In progressing the Management of Attendance Policy the Council will remain compliant with its obligations under the Equality Act

Corporate/Service Objectives

25. The Council will be unable to deliver corporate objectives without keeping absence levels to a minimum.

Policy Framework and Budget

26. The report is a matter for the Executive decision by the Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

27. All Chief Officers are aware of the absence figures within their respective services.

28. There are ongoing discussions within the joint Employee Policy Formulation group on the application of the existing Management of Attendance policy. The conclusion of these discussions will assist consideration of a revised schools Management of Absence policy and procedure. 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

29. Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

Appendix A - 2012/2013 Sickness Absence figures and targets.

Contact Officer

Adrian Unsworth - Operational Manager Human Resources 01446 709359

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team.

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies - Director of Finance, ICT and Propert

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