Council staff in Wrexham had more than 50,000 sick days in the last year as newly released statistics have highlighted an increase in absence rates.
The total number of sick days for the local authority went up by around four per cent, which equates to eleven and a half days for each of its employees.
Almost a third of staff were absent as a result of stress, anxiety and depression which continues to be the most common reason, with mental health related sick days rising by almost five per cent annually.
Back in January we reported why that indicator had previously shot up, due to the new-ish extra detail being provided by the stats. Back in 2016/17 the ‘reason not recorded’ was 25.9% however that has now dropped to 3.6% due to the extra information collected.
Wrexham Council says it has taken steps to try improve sickness rates, including by providing access to counselling.
A report set to go before councillors tomorrow states “There are various initiatives that aim to ensure we continue to review and reduce absence levels.
“We continue to promote the employee assistance programme, introduced in July 2018.
“This enables employees to access counselling support and offers the use of a dedicated website which provides self-help information, guidance and advice on a range of subjects that impact on employee health and wellbeing.
“Health and well being events are held throughout the year for all employees.
“The main event was held in November 2018 and further events including a mental health event were held in February which linked to the national campaign of ‘Time to Talk’.”
The other main reasons for absence included general illnesses at just under 20 per cent and musculo-skeletal conditions at around 13.2 per cent.
Non-teaching school staff took the highest amount of sick days, with 12,052 in the last 12 months, followed by teachers with 8,436.
In response to the figures, the council’s education department said absence levels had remained static since last year.
It said: “Managers within the education department robustly mange sickness absences paying due attention to corporate polices and the Bradford Factor.
“The department devotes capacity and time to develop its staff.
“For example in December 2018, a whole department meeting involving over 400 staff attended a workshop on metal resilience and emotional well being.”
Spend on agency workers per department was also picked up back in January, with updated figures this week provided in the following table:
An explainer is given, noting that some agency workers are covering vacant posts therefore a budget exists within the department. This budget value is shown, this offsets some of the agency costs. Agency costs £4,110,222 less budget of £350,652 results in £3,759,570 as true cost of agency workers to the council – although the figures are not adjusted in one table, this is given as a ‘+25%’ figure to councillors.
Short / Long Term Sickness Cover cost is given as £709,121 for 2018-19 , up 180% from £252,552 for the previous year.
The report also contains some data on staffing at Wrexham Council, with the below table showing staffing per department:
Details of those leaving the council between April 2018 and 31 March 2019 is also given – there were 578 leavers. The table below displays the breakdown of leavers by category and by Department with the previous years’ figures.
The report will be considered by members of the authority’s customers, performance, resources and governance scrutiny committee on Wednesday.
By Liam Randall – BBC Local Democracy Reporter (more here on the LDR scheme) / Wrexham.com
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