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Bournemouth council workers top the sick charts with most days off
COUNCIL workers in Bournemouth take more sick days than any of their counterparts – and a quarter are due to stress and mental health issues.
The sickness rate at Bournemouth council is continuing to increase and now stands at an average of 9.59 sick days a year, according to the latest figures.
This is more than double the absence rate in the private sector where workers are off for an average of 4.5 days a year, and it looks increasingly unlikely Bournemouth council will meet its target of reducing this to 6.5 by March 2015.
Dorset County Council has the second highest sickness rate in the conurbation, with an average of 8.99 working days lost per employee.
However, this does not include the Dorset Waste Partnership, where the rate is 15.87 days per employee.
It is estimated staff sickness costs the county council £3.34m a year in lost productivity.
A Bournemouth council report states that the highest levels of sickness occur in departments that deal directly with the public.
Just over 25 per cent of these absences are caused by stress and mental health issues.
Dave Higgins, pictured, Unison representative at Bournemouth council, said: “It is a concern and I think we need to find out the reasons behind it.
“If people are off due to stress, we need to look at why they are stressed. Is it because there are less people at work and so there is more pressure on the ones that are left?
“If there is not sufficient staff to do the work or they are being asked to do the impossible, stress levels will go up.”
But Alan Hyde, the head of strategic human resources, said: “There is no obviously cause for this increase but we have reviewed the actions that we take to keep absence levels at a minimum whilst supporting the health and wellbeing of our employees.”
In East Dorset, employees were off for an average of 8.16 days during 2012.
Up to the end of September 2012, Poole’s figure was 7.96. This is an increase on 2011, when the figure was 7.74, but Poole’s staff sickness rates for 2011 and 2012 were the lowest since 2007.
At Purbeck District Council, workers were off for an average of 7.68 days, in Christchurch it was 7.16 and North Dorset looks set to have the lowest sickness rate of 2012/13, with its figure currently standing at 5.52.