Councillor calls for analysis of public sector sick absence

A Belfast councillor has called for the Local Government Auditor to ask the Northern Ireland Audit Office to analyse sickness trends across Northern Ireland's public service.

Councillor Margaret Clarke, Chairman of the Belfast City Council’s Personnel Sub-Committee, said that it was vital to establish why local government had a "lost time" rate 20% higher than that in the rest of the UK, and why the difference between the Northern Ireland and the UK Civil Service was even greater.

Councillor Clarke said: “Belfast City Council is transparent with its sick absence figures, unlike many organizations, and as a result we are highlighted in the media as having a poor record, even though other employers have similar difficulties.

“The Council takes this problem seriously and has put in place a clear and well communicated policy and procedure for dealing with absence and has introduced a number of new measures.

“However, it is clear that sickness absence is not simply a Belfast City Council problem but that Northern Ireland’s local authorities and the Civil Service compare poorly to the rest of the United Kingdom’s local authorities."

Councillor Clarke was speaking as it was revealed that Belfast City Council’s absence rate for the year had risen slightly, from 14.22 days per person last year to 14.51 days in 2003/04.

However, the figures also show that almost one-third of staff, 30.7%, had no sickness absence at all, 25.8% had less than five days and 13.9% were absent for between five and ten days.

The figures indicate the Council has no short term sickness problem but long term absence - at 19.1% staff with more than 20 days illness - is where improvements are required, as this accounted for 63.1% of the total working days lost.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

11 October 2019
Youths Have Their Say On World Mental Health Day
More than 70 young people in integrated education across Northern Ireland united to have their say on mental health issues at a conference to mark World Mental Health Day on Thursday.
15 December 2005
Minister welcomes fall in Civil Service sickness levels
The Civil Service has published an analysis of sickness absence during 2004/2005, which shows a reduction on the previous year. The report for 2004/2005, the sixth annual report, analyses sickness absence statistics for non-industrial staff in Northern Ireland government departments.
01 October 2019
Man Seriously Injured In Belfast City Centre
Police have issued an appeal after a man was seriously injured in Belfast City Centre in recent months. An incident reportedly occurred in the Shaftsbury Square area of the city at around 2.30am on Saturday morning, 24 August. Members of the public are urged to think back to that date and whether they were in the area at the time.
23 April 2013
Sickness Absence In NI Public Sector Costs Economy £149m
The cost of sickness absence across the Northern Ireland Civil Service and the health and education sectors was estimated at £149 million in 2010-11 - £30 million for the Civil Service, £73 million for health trusts and £46 million for the education sector, according to the Audit Office.
30 October 2013
Civil Servants Average 10 Days' Sick Leave
Staff in the Northern Ireland Civil service took on average over ten days each of sick leave over the period 2012/13, indicating an increase on the previous year. The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) today published the report 'Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service 2012/2013'.