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Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 13 January, 2014

Report of the Leader

 

Sickness Absence Report - April to September 2013

 

Purpose of the Report

1.         To provide an update to Members on the half yearly sickness statistics for the period 1st April 2013 to 30th September 2013.

Recommendations

1.         That the update report for the half yearly period be noted.

2.         That a continued focus on the management of attendance is maintained in order to respond to the increase in absence levels for the first half of 2013/14.

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

4.         That a more detailed report is submitted to Cabinet in June 2014 in order to report on the full year sickness outturn figures and any issues for future consideration.

Reasons for the Recommendations

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

2.         To help respond to a recent increase in absence levels.

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

4.         To provide the opportunity for Members to review issues in relation to the management of attendance in the context of a full year's data set.     

Background

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

3.         This report is provided as part of a regular update to Members. The report sets out absence figures for the first half of the financial year (up to 30th September 2013) for employees corporately employed staff and also those employed directly by schools.

4.         The report indicates that there has been an increase in absence levels for the first half of the year and reiterates the need to retain a focus on absence management for the remaining period of the financial year.

Relevant Issues and Options

5.         Sickness absence levels up to September 2013 (and comparisons with the same period in 2012) for both corporate and schools employees are as follows:-

 

Actual Absence

April to Sept 2012.

      Actual Absence
     April to Sept 2013.

Average days / shifts lost per FTE

3.47 (days per employee)

4.05 (days per employee) 

 

Percentage of lost time by FTE

2.7%

3.1%

 

6.         Full details of the breakdown of the sickness absence figures by Directorate and individual service areas are set out within appendix A of this report. 

7.         Although the sickness levels (at 4.05 days per employee) remain within the pro-rated target for 2013/14 i.e. 4.45 days per employee, they are, however slightly higher than at the same six monthly stage in the previous year.

8.         The figures in Appendix A demonstrate that sickness absence within thirteen of the twenty two service areas is below target for the first six months of the year and ten service areas have lower sickness absence than in the same period in 2012.  

9.         The highest areas of absence continues to be concentrated in Adult Social Services and Visible Services. Such absence is reflective of the same experiences in other local authorities and congruent with services that have a large number of front line employees with a relatively higher exposure to risk of injury and related ill health.

10.      Work will continue in both service areas during the remainder of 2013/14 to ensure that absence is monitored and reviewed and appropriate support is given.

11.      Days lost as a result of long term absence (2.82 days per employee) continue to account for approximately 70% of all absence. Short term/intermittent absence (1.23 days per employee) accounting for approximately 30%.

12.      Regardless of the reason for the absence, all staff are treated fairly with every reasonable effort made to consider reasonable adaptations. Measures taken include implementing reduction in hours, changing start and finish times and phased return to employment opportunities.

13.      In response to recent increases in sickness absence a team has been established within Human Resources to strengthen the case management approach to sickness absence and specifically to review/support individual cases where there are high levels of absence.

14.      The team is chaired by the Head of Human Resources and supported by the relevant Chief Officer, HR Officer and Occupational Health. The group will supplement the work of managers and HR Officers to assist employees in their return to work through support and the use of appropriate measures and reasonable adjustments. 

15.      A table showing sickness rates with other organisations is set out in Appendix B. The data is the latest available and provided for illustrative purposes only. The information will be updated at the end of the current financial year and included in the report to be submitted to Cabinet in June 2014.

16.      Although the information is useful as a general indicator it is important to be aware of the dangers of such comparisons. Members will, for example be aware of the variability in responses to annual sickness surveys and the difference in the way that sickness absence is calculated and recorded.

17.      Members will also be aware that the recognised trade unions have raised a number of concerns about the robustness of the existing Management of Attendance Policy. This has been raised at previous Cabinet meetings and raised again at the Joint Consultative Forum in October. As a result of this it was agreed that the Head of Human Resources would review the Policy in the light of those concerns.

18.      Such a review is currently underway and will be reported to Cabinet in due course. The outcome of the review will clearly need to balance the concerns as raised by the unions with the concerns about the recent increase in absence levels.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

19.      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)

20.      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

21.      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)

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

Corporate/Service Objectives

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

Policy Framework and Budget

24.      The report is a matter for the Executive decision.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

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

26.      The have been extensive discussions within the joint Employee Policy Formulation group and within the officer Management of Attendance group on the application of the existing Management of Attendance policy. The concerns have also more recently been considered at the corporate Joint Consultative Forum which has resulted in a commitment for the policy to be reviewed and referred back to the Forum to consider further. 

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

27.      Corporate Resources.

Background Papers

Appendix A - Sickness Absence figures and targets, April to September 2013.

 

Contact Officer

Adrian Unsworth - Operational Manager Human Resources 01446 709359

 

Officers Consulted

Corporate Management Team.

 

Responsible Officer:

Sian Davies - Director of Finance, ICT and Property

 

 

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