Staff absence costs more than �1million

SICKNESS among borough employees cost taxpayers in Ipswich a staggering �1.4m last year, it can be revealed today.

SICKNESS among borough employees cost taxpayers in Ipswich a staggering �1.4m last year, it can be revealed today.

The average period of absence per Ipswich Borough Council worker in 2008/09 was 9.31 days - well above the 6.8 day target.

In all, 10,463 days were lost to ill health in the last 12 months - the equivalent to more than 28 years.

Of those, 45 per cent were attributed to long-term sickness (more than 20 days) and 55pc were short term.

Human resource bosses have now launched a review of sickness policies to reduce absence levels.

Measures to remedy the problem include improving methods of managing, reporting and recording absences, and the adoption of a more thorough approach with employees whose sickness levels are deemed unacceptable.

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The most significant change is the introduction of the Bradford Points Factor, which is designed to highlight employees who have frequent incidences of absence.

Bosses predict changes in policy will save the council around �350,000 a year.

Borough absence levels reached a peak of an average of 10.22 days per employee in 2006/07 but have since begun to fall. In 2007/08, the figure stood at 9.89 days.

A report presented to the borough's Human Resource committee revealed that in 2008/09, the absence cost per full time equivalent was around �1,300, resulting in lost productivity of �1.4m.

However, the actual loss to the authority is likely to be much higher because the figure does not include the cost of temporary cover or loss in revenues from front line services which may not run as efficiently.

Borough council director Jonathan Owen said: “Our new procedures are driving down absences and that is good news for us and for

council tax-payers.

“A key part of delivering this is promoting positive programmes, such as Fit for Work, which improve health and well-being among our staff and help reduce sickness.”

Are you surprised at the figures? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail eveningstarletters@eveningstar.co.uk

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