New group to tackle worsening absences

Coun Gordon Castle
Coun Gordon Castle

The overall direction of travel has been a gradually worsening level of sickness absence across Northumberland County Council in recent years, according to a recent report.

A review of the issue in 2015 was discussed at Tuesday morning’s meeting of the authority’s economic growth and corporate services scrutiny committee.

The trend has seen a rise from an average of 9.12 days lost per full-time employee in 2012/13 to 9.87 in 2015, although the latter is a slight improvement on 2014/15.

Short-term and frequent absence has improved, but the bulk of the issue is long-term absence and a new Workforce Group, which is the forum for developing and delivering all workforce-related matters, is to focus on tackling the two main causes of absence – mental-health issues (26 per cent) and musculo-skeletal/back issues (a total of 33 per cent).

Coun Gordon Castle said: “I’m pleased to see we are managing a very difficult situation, yet we have to do our best to keep the workforce at work as much as possible.”