Abstracts: July 19th, 2005

This survey from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development reveals that sickness continues to hit public sector employers harder than the private services sector. The gap between the number of sick days taken in the two sectors has widened by more than half a day since last year’s survey. Average absence levels in the public sector stand at 10.3 days per employee per year compared to 6.8 days in private services sector. The cost of absence in the public sector is 645 pounds per employee each year, rising to 1060 pounds within the health sector.Stress is one of the leading and growing causes of absence in the public sector with around a half of organisations citing stress as a leading cause of long-term absence for non-manual workers. Meanwhile, more than four in ten public sector organisations say that their stress levels have increased during the past year. Absence levels are highest in local government and the health sector. There are a high proportion of particularly challenging public facing roles in the public sector such as police, healthcare, teaching, and social services which contribute to higher than average levels of absence.

Research shows that change is one of the biggest causes of stress and there has been a tremendous amount of change in the sector with employees working within increasingly target-driven and performance managed environments.

Only a quarter (28%) of public sector organisations take into account attendance records as part of performance measures for individuals’ appraisals compared to almost half (48%) of private sector service organisations. However 40% of respondents believe that including employees’ attendance records among performance measures for individuals’ appraisals has a positive effect on reducing absence levels, with just 12% saying this has no effect.

The survey is available at http://www.cipd.co.uk/surveys