Headlines: July 24th, 1998

The Public Services Minister today called for a 30% cut in sickness absence in the public sector following the publication of a new report.

The report, Working Well Together, makes 27 recommendations intended to ensure that current average sickness absence rates are cut by 30% by 2003. These include:

* offering more flexible working hours

* considering the caring and social responsibilities of staff from outside work

* looking at adopting or participating in health awareness programmes for staff

* encouraging staff to make full and effective use of welfare and counselling services

* proactive management which would involve return to work interviews and reviews of an individual’s cumulative absences

Many of the recommendations should be adopted by June 1999 and all by December 1999.

Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster and Public Service Minister, Dr David Clark said today: “While large numbers of public employees have little or no sickness absence during a year, when absences are frequent and the management of this is poor, quality of service is affected. It also means an increased workload for those who do attend”.

“The findings show that there is already an encouraging level of management activity on absence management. It is important that managers are now provided with sound supporting material on tackling absence levels.