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Staff sickness costs Telford & Wrekin Council £2 million

By Mat Growcott | Politics | Published:

Staff sickness has cost Telford & Wrekin Council more than £2 million over the last year – but it was a drop of nearly £150,000 on the previous year.

More than 15 per cent of total sick days related to stress, second only to problems with the musculo skeletal system.

Across the 2016/17 year, 20,369 days were taken off sick at the council, at an estimated cost of £2,083,375.

This is an almost 10 per cent drop from 2015/16, when 22,267 days were taken off sick by staff employed directly by Telford & Wrekin Council at an estimated cost of £2,223,060.

Russell Griffin, council spokesman, said the council's sickness policy was regularly reviewed to make it as efficient as possible.

"The number of staff directly employed by Telford & Wrekin Council fell by 9.2 per cent between April 1, 2016 and March 31, 2017, however the average days lost to sickness has also fallen," he said.

"The average of 9.59 days per full-time equivalent employee compares with a mean of 10.5 days identified for local government in the CIPD Absence Management Survey for 2016.

"The council’s sickness absence management policy is monitored and reviewed regularly to enable managers to engage with employees in a timely way to allow for appropriate support to be discussed and agreed.

"This early intervention approach helps to support employees, as much as possible, to remain in work and attend regularly."

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In 2016/17, 25.2 per cent of sick days related to the musculo skeletal system, a raise from the previous year's 23.78 per cent.

Stress accounted for 18.1 per cent of all sick days in 2015/16, a significantly higher figure than 2017's 15.7 per cent.

Illnesses relating to the digestive system were the reason for 11.29 per cent of sick days this year, down from 13.57 per cent the year before.

In 2015/16 11.54 per cent of illnesses at Telford & Wrekin Council involved the respiratory system, higher than 9.64 per cent this year.

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Ear, nose, throat and eyes were the cause of 10.42 per cent of sick days over the last year, up from 9.17 per cent the year before.

All other illnesses accounted for 23.84 per cent in 2015/16 and 27.88 per cent over the last year.

The news comes as it is revealed that sick days have cost Shropshire Council over £10 million in the past two years.

Figures have revealed that in 2015 more than 55,000 days were taken off sick by staff, including for stress, at a cost of £5,462,081.38.

The number of sick days in 2016 had reduced by 12 per cent the following year to 49,000, and the costs reduced by nine per cent to £5,007,147.87.

Rod Thomson, Shropshire Council’s director of public health, said in response: “Sickness absence at Shropshire Council averages between 9 and 10 days, per full-time equivalent employee, each year.

"We employ approximately 8,000 staff over a very broad and diverse range of service areas and our sickness absence levels are not dissimilar to other public sector organisations.”

Powys County Council staff took over 39,000 sick days in 2015, at a cost of £1,950,147.53, with days taken off due to stress costing £410,555.37.

In 2016 the numbers rose, with over 56,000 sickness days taken, costing £2,061,837.51, with stress days costing £505,103.20.

Mat Growcott

By Mat Growcott
Trainee Multi-Media Journalist - @MGrowcott_Star

Shropshire Star reporter

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