High staff sickness levels at Chichester District Council on ‘downward trend’

Chichester District Council
Chichester District Council

Chichester District Council is working to reduce staff sickness levels, which have been described as ‘not acceptable’.

Peter Wilding, cabinet member for corporate services, told a meeting of the cabinet last week that, in 2017/18, absenteeism reached more than nine days per person per year.

In 2011/12, the rate was around 6.5 days with the figures dipping and rising over the following years.

Figures from other West Sussex authorities showed that only Arun District Council had a higher rate of absence, at 9.59 days.

A report put to the council’s overview and scrutiny committee stated that long-term sickness had risen in the last two years, with one of the key factors being the amount of cases categorised as depression, stress, anxiety, fatigue and mental health.

Mr Wilding reported that a full review of the causes and management of staff sickness had been carried out by senior management and the council’s HR and business improvement teams.

He told the meeting that sickness was now on a ‘downward trend’ with absenteeism standing at just over eight days per person in October, just shy of the council’s eight-day target.

Part of the reviewed absence management policy includes a welfare meeting with staff who clock up seven days of sickness or three separate bouts.

It was welcomed by deputy leader Eileen Lintill (Con, Petworth), who said: “I’m really pleased to see there is an emphasis on the welfare of the employee rather than just making it a formal absence process.

“I think working with them we should see a return to levels that we would hope are acceptable.”