Sick days cost taxpayer £7.6m

The Argus: Sick days cost taxpayer £7.6m Sick days cost taxpayer £7.6m

Staff sickness in the public sector is soaring, with councillors claiming it cost the tax-payer £7.6 million in a year.

Brighton and Hove City Council has revealed its workers are taking, on average, 11.3 days off a year – the equivalent of more than two weeks annually and an increase of 9% in the past 12 months.

This compares with national levels of 6.9 days a year in the public sector and 4.9 in the private sector.

With stress cited by officials as one of main reasons, union repre- sentatives said it was a sign of how departments across the local authority were having to do more with less.

In raising the issue during a town hall meeting, opposition councillors have now called for local authority managers to deal with the matter urgently.

Conservative group leader Coun Geoffrey Theobald said: “Clearly, if there are genuine reasons for staff sickness then it is right and proper that staff are allowed to take time off from work.

“However, when the council is so far above the national average for both public and private sectors, and heading in the wrong direction, then something seems to be going badly wrong man- agement-wise.

“And there is a major financial impact – if we were to get the level down just to the public sector average it would save council taxpayers around £3 million – money that could be spent on frontline services.”

But, Mark Turner, of GMB, said: “There are a lot of staff facing a lot of stress and pressure for various different reasons but the general thrust is that they are expected to do more with less. If you only have 50p you cannot spend £1.

“That added stress means that some people are expected to take their work home with them, which has added impact on social and family lives.”

He said there had been added stress put on workers due to Government changes, such as welfare reform and the planning system.

The figures were revealed in a report looking at the council’s performance for the first half of 2013/14.

A document to councillors said: “There appears to be no specific reason for the increase, although it is possible it may be attributable in part to the work the council has been doing to improve the reporting of sickness absence by managers.”

A recent report from the CBI indicates that staff absence, while falling, still costs the UK economy £14 billion a year.

Using an annual average salary of £25,798.60 across the council’s approxi- mately 9,500 staff, the Conservative group estimate staff absence in the current financial tier cost £7.6 million.

The council said it would be using the results of a recent staff survey to see if it has “appropriate mechanisms” in place to support those individuals who may be affected by stress.

Comments (12)

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10:41am Mon 9 Dec 13

PorkBoat says...

A fraction of what bailing out the banksters, paying interest on money they loaned to the government (that could be put to good use elsewhere), and the parasites at Buckingham Palace. In the grand scheme of things, £7.6m just small change.
A fraction of what bailing out the banksters, paying interest on money they loaned to the government (that could be put to good use elsewhere), and the parasites at Buckingham Palace. In the grand scheme of things, £7.6m just small change. PorkBoat

1:18pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Warren Morgan says...

Huge cuts, below-inflation pay rises, energy bills rocketing, services and jobs under threat: it's no wonder public sector staff are off sick with stress. Does Geoffrey Theobald not make the link to what his Government are doing?
Huge cuts, below-inflation pay rises, energy bills rocketing, services and jobs under threat: it's no wonder public sector staff are off sick with stress. Does Geoffrey Theobald not make the link to what his Government are doing? Warren Morgan

4:41pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes.
Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes. Maxwell's Ghost

4:48pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Warren Morgan says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes.
Except they are not - public sector pay increases are capped at 1%. Private sector pay is increasing at well over twice that rate but still not in line with inflation:

http://www.personnel
today.com/hr/private
-sector-employers-pr
edict-2-5-pay-increa
se/

http://www.wsandb.co
.uk/wsb/news/2303083
/private-sector-expe
cts-pay-increase-of-
25

And the value of public sector pensions is being reduced by a third:

http://www.theguardi
an.com/money/2013/ma
y/17/public-sector-p
ensions-reduced-thir
d
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes.[/p][/quote]Except they are not - public sector pay increases are capped at 1%. Private sector pay is increasing at well over twice that rate but still not in line with inflation: http://www.personnel today.com/hr/private -sector-employers-pr edict-2-5-pay-increa se/ http://www.wsandb.co .uk/wsb/news/2303083 /private-sector-expe cts-pay-increase-of- 25 And the value of public sector pensions is being reduced by a third: http://www.theguardi an.com/money/2013/ma y/17/public-sector-p ensions-reduced-thir d Warren Morgan

6:48pm Mon 9 Dec 13

jimpy762 says...

Warren Morgan wrote:
Huge cuts, below-inflation pay rises, energy bills rocketing, services and jobs under threat: it's no wonder public sector staff are off sick with stress. Does Geoffrey Theobald not make the link to what his Government are doing?
As usual, our resident trot doing all he can to justify the inefficiency and waste on the public sector gravy train. Come and try a day at the company I work for and you'll learn a thing or two about stress. If we used that rather feeble excuse for absence our employment circumstances would be under review pretty **** quickly.
[quote][p][bold]Warren Morgan[/bold] wrote: Huge cuts, below-inflation pay rises, energy bills rocketing, services and jobs under threat: it's no wonder public sector staff are off sick with stress. Does Geoffrey Theobald not make the link to what his Government are doing?[/p][/quote]As usual, our resident trot doing all he can to justify the inefficiency and waste on the public sector gravy train. Come and try a day at the company I work for and you'll learn a thing or two about stress. If we used that rather feeble excuse for absence our employment circumstances would be under review pretty **** quickly. jimpy762

7:25pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Maxwell's Ghost says...

Warren how many weeks do council workers receive full pay while off sick?
How long do they have to work for the council before being entitled to the allowance?
Are they allowed to return to work and then go sick again on full pay? How many weeks do workers go sick before they are managed out of the business?
Give us the details and we can compare with the private sector.
Warren how many weeks do council workers receive full pay while off sick? How long do they have to work for the council before being entitled to the allowance? Are they allowed to return to work and then go sick again on full pay? How many weeks do workers go sick before they are managed out of the business? Give us the details and we can compare with the private sector. Maxwell's Ghost

7:48pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Warren Morgan says...

Jimpy - a trot, that's hilarious, I will add that to my list alongside "socialist dinosaur" and "yellow Tory".

Maxwell's Ghost - got the council's website and search "attendance management" - should cover what you need to know.
Jimpy - a trot, that's hilarious, I will add that to my list alongside "socialist dinosaur" and "yellow Tory". Maxwell's Ghost - got the council's website and search "attendance management" - should cover what you need to know. Warren Morgan

8:29pm Mon 9 Dec 13

Quiterie says...

Warren Morgan wrote:
Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes.
Except they are not - public sector pay increases are capped at 1%. Private sector pay is increasing at well over twice that rate but still not in line with inflation:

http://www.personnel

today.com/hr/private

-sector-employers-pr

edict-2-5-pay-increa

se/

http://www.wsandb.co

.uk/wsb/news/2303083

/private-sector-expe

cts-pay-increase-of-

25

And the value of public sector pensions is being reduced by a third:

http://www.theguardi

an.com/money/2013/ma

y/17/public-sector-p

ensions-reduced-thir

d
You really do come out with some garbage sometimes Warren. I admire you for coming on here and putting your case, but your argument that the public sector have it worse than the private sector is complete rubbish. Anyone who doesn't believe me just Google "Private Sector Pay v Public Sector Pay". You'll find almost every single article laying out the facts stating that Public Sector Pay is still running way ahead of Private Sector Pay.

And despite the fact that Public Sector pensions are reducing (surely a good thing?!???!?), they're still way ahead of Private Sector pensions.

You've had a shocker here Warren, a real shocker.
[quote][p][bold]Warren Morgan[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes.[/p][/quote]Except they are not - public sector pay increases are capped at 1%. Private sector pay is increasing at well over twice that rate but still not in line with inflation: http://www.personnel today.com/hr/private -sector-employers-pr edict-2-5-pay-increa se/ http://www.wsandb.co .uk/wsb/news/2303083 /private-sector-expe cts-pay-increase-of- 25 And the value of public sector pensions is being reduced by a third: http://www.theguardi an.com/money/2013/ma y/17/public-sector-p ensions-reduced-thir d[/p][/quote]You really do come out with some garbage sometimes Warren. I admire you for coming on here and putting your case, but your argument that the public sector have it worse than the private sector is complete rubbish. Anyone who doesn't believe me just Google "Private Sector Pay v Public Sector Pay". You'll find almost every single article laying out the facts stating that Public Sector Pay is still running way ahead of Private Sector Pay. And despite the fact that Public Sector pensions are reducing (surely a good thing?!???!?), they're still way ahead of Private Sector pensions. You've had a shocker here Warren, a real shocker. Quiterie

9:52pm Mon 9 Dec 13

ourcoalition says...

Better get a Trade Union in the private sector then - it was us that negotiated decent pay, decent pensions, and so on. And, by the way, some of the private sector (where they have an organised Union) get the same.

Don't fall for the politics of envy, and join the race to the bottom that this Government is actively implementing - both public sector and private depend on each other - united we should be!
Better get a Trade Union in the private sector then - it was us that negotiated decent pay, decent pensions, and so on. And, by the way, some of the private sector (where they have an organised Union) get the same. Don't fall for the politics of envy, and join the race to the bottom that this Government is actively implementing - both public sector and private depend on each other - united we should be! ourcoalition

8:44am Tue 10 Dec 13

BrighterStar says...

I think it is highly suspect that this story makes its way into the press just days after the announcement / leak of the Council's plans to slash Adult Social Care in Brighton. It feels like this is the beginning of a subtle campaign to undermine public confidence in public sector workers ahead of wholesale privatisation. Sickness absence is a complex issue and many factors may apply e.g. a small number of people off sick regularly will have an impact on average sick day figures and may indicate a failure of management rather than a lazy work force. The vast majority of council workers are not well paid but remain diligent and loyal particularly to those in their care and they deserve better treatment by this Council.
I think it is highly suspect that this story makes its way into the press just days after the announcement / leak of the Council's plans to slash Adult Social Care in Brighton. It feels like this is the beginning of a subtle campaign to undermine public confidence in public sector workers ahead of wholesale privatisation. Sickness absence is a complex issue and many factors may apply e.g. a small number of people off sick regularly will have an impact on average sick day figures and may indicate a failure of management rather than a lazy work force. The vast majority of council workers are not well paid but remain diligent and loyal particularly to those in their care and they deserve better treatment by this Council. BrighterStar

1:38pm Tue 10 Dec 13

s_james says...

Maxwell's Ghost wrote:
Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes.
I have worked in the public sector since 2005 and every year the pay settlement has been below inflation. During the boom times the justification by the Labour government was that below inflation increases were necessary to control inflation, with no evidence to support that position.

Those that say we were are all in it together and the private sector are suffering, fine, but we weren’t all in it together in the years preceding 2009.

And for the record, I average one day off sick per year.
[quote][p][bold]Maxwell's Ghost[/bold] wrote: Same pressures as in the private sector Warren without the pension schemes.[/p][/quote]I have worked in the public sector since 2005 and every year the pay settlement has been below inflation. During the boom times the justification by the Labour government was that below inflation increases were necessary to control inflation, with no evidence to support that position. Those that say we were are all in it together and the private sector are suffering, fine, but we weren’t all in it together in the years preceding 2009. And for the record, I average one day off sick per year. s_james

12:19pm Wed 11 Dec 13

Rearrangethedeckchairs says...

Blame the council workers as ever. Particularly the large amount on their exorbitant salaries of £18,000 a year. Never mind the bankers who continue to destroy the economy and which the eton lot who run our country do nothing about. Not that bonkers Brown did anything before them-quite the opposite. Government are taking away 20 million a year every year from local government here so soon there will be very few people left to be off sick.
Blame the council workers as ever. Particularly the large amount on their exorbitant salaries of £18,000 a year. Never mind the bankers who continue to destroy the economy and which the eton lot who run our country do nothing about. Not that bonkers Brown did anything before them-quite the opposite. Government are taking away 20 million a year every year from local government here so soon there will be very few people left to be off sick. Rearrangethedeckchairs

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