Council takes action to tackle high level of staff absences

Pic: TSPL
Pic: TSPL

Fife Council has one of the highest levels of staff absence with in Scottish local authoirities, it has been revealed.

Now it is looking at ways to improve that figure.

The council has already introduced a range of initiatives, but absences still remain high.

The environment, finance and communities scrutiny committee nboted a small reduction earlier this year, but that trend did not continue.

Councillor Tim Brett, committee convener, said: “Staff absence remains a major concern for nearly all council departments, so its important that elected members monitor the action being taken to address it.

“We endorsed a programme of activities at the beginning of this year, and were pleased to receive an update on the project.

“However, despite the wide range of initiatives to improve employee attendance throughout the organisation, Fife still has one of the highest levels of absence amongst Scottish councils.”
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He said that put extra pressure on staff at work, and created difficulties in providing services.

Cllr Brett added: “As a committee we welcome the proactive steps that are being taken and recognise that there was a small reduction in absence levels earlier this year. Unfortunately this trend did not continue and attendance dropped again in May.

“We are working on long-term measures to help improve the physical and mental wellbeing of staff, and absence is an issue we will keep under scrutiny.”

These include:

· Skills development for line managers, particularly equipping them for difficult conversations with team members

· Modifying processes around an employee’s return to work to support health conversations for common, but difficult, health situations such as cancer diagnoses;

· Piloting a ‘nurse first’ model for reporting sickness;

· Introducing self-referral for counselling support;

· Introducing new approaches to support, and raise awareness of the importance of, mental health in the workplace; and

· Promoting the physical activity team’s initiatives to increase physical activity

The committee asked for a further report in six months’ time.