30/09/2009

Civil Service Sickness Level 'Depressing'

The main reason for office workers in the NI civil service being away from work due to illness was depression.

That, or other psychiatric illnesses, accounted for 26.7% of working days lost.

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has today published an analysis of sickness absence of non-industrial staff in all Northern Ireland Government departments during 2008/2009.

An average of 11 days per staff year was lost as a result of overall sickness absence.

However, the absence level is down from 12.9 days last year, but the fall, while substantial, has not been enough to achieve the target of 10.2 days.

However, the proportion of staff with no recorded sick absence has increased from 43.1% in 2007/2008 to 49.8%.
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The cost to the taxpayer for even this 'reduced' level of sickness absence is still substantial, as the direct paybill was £21m.

Analysis by individual department revealed that the level of absence ranged from 6.8 days in the First Minister's Office (OFMDFM) to a huge 14.6 days in the Department for Soical Development (DSD).

However, a large part of this variation was attributable to differences between departments in terms of their grade, gender and age profiles.

The absence rate was highest among staff at and analogous to the administrative officer level (15.0 days).

The vast majority of the working days lost were due to a relatively small proportion of staff (10.2%) who were absent from work on a long-term basis for an average of 61.7 working days.

The report is available on the NISRA website at: Analysis_of_Sickness_Absence

(BMcC/KMcA)

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