Headlines: March 16th, 1999

Jack Cunningham, Minister for the Cabinet Office, has challenged public
sector organisations to get sickness absence down 30% by 2003. This is the
target he has also set for the civil service. Absence through sickness is a
long-standing problem across the public service.There are some cases where sick leave is viewed as an entitlement and an extension of annual leave scales. In July last year Home Secretary Jack Straw urged police forces to make better use of all assets, including tackling sickness.

Absence figures reveal wide variations both within and between organisations. This indicates that it is not the type of work that is the most significant cause. The more likely explanation is that some public bodies manage attendance more effectively than others. Organisations operating effective sick absence polices and practices were identified in
the report Working Well Together, published by the Cabinet Office last year.

In a move to improve sickness absence management practice the Cabinet Office has launched a resource pack which is available to all public bodies. Hard copies can be obtained from Cabinet Office Efficiency and Effectiveness Group on 0171 270 0633. The pack is also available at www.cabinet-office.gov.uk/eeg/index.htm