15/12/2005

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.

Commenting on the findings, Minister of Finance and Personnel, Jeff Rooker, said: “This comprehensive report demonstrates very clearly the extent of the problem across the 11 NI Departments. Departments have made significant efforts and this has resulted in a reduction of the average number of days lost due to sickness absence to 14 days.

"The paybill cost was £25.3 million and while high, this figure is lower than for the previous financial year - £26.1 million. Early indications suggest the reduction is continuing this year.

“Managing attendance is a key priority within NI Departments and there is a comprehensive range of policies and procedures in place to tackle this problem and to help and support staff at work and throughout their illness. These include professional help and support, assistance with rehabilitation and reasonable adjustments.

“A corporate target has been set for reducing sickness absence to 9.5.days per staff year by 2010 and, while this is a challenging target I am confident that it can be achieved through a combination of culture change and the consistent and robust application of our policies and procedures.”

The report highlights that during the financial year 2004/2005, there was a sickness absence rate per staff year of 14.2 days, which represents 6.5% of available working days. Just over 70% of all spells of sickness absence were self-certified, while the remaining absence spells were covered by a medical certificate.

Over one third (38.5%) of staff had no recorded sick absence during the year. The vast majority of working days lost (78.6%) were due to a relatively small proportion of staff (13.9%).

The Minister added: “The report shows that over three quarters of all working days lost due to sickness absence is attributable to a small number of staff and it is encouraging to note that over 38% of staff had no sick absence at all during 2004/05."

The analysis and interpretation of the detailed sickness absence data is one of the most comprehensive of its kind in Northern Ireland and has led to a range of corporate and departmental initiatives aimed at reducing sick absence levels.

(SP/GB)

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