Sickness costs council £3.8m

South Ayrshire Council headquarters
South Ayrshire Council headquarters

Employee sickness absence cost South Ayrshire Council £3.79m over the past year according to a report to councillors this week.

A total of 42,736 days were lost as a result of sickness, and 66% of those days were due to long term sickness.

The report by the council’s head of employee and customer services revealed that psychological illness was the main reason for absence (30%), followed by musculoskeletal (19%) and hospitalisation (12%) - a list that remains unchanged from 2016-17. Teacher absence accounts for 14% of absenteeism at the council.

“While an employer can, and should, monitor absence, establish required levels of attendance and take action where absence levels fall below the standards which can be sustained by the business, unacceptable levels of authorised sickness absence (ie covered by a self or medical certificate) is not an issue of conduct (which are dealt with through the disciplinary process) and, therefore, issuing disciplinary warnings is not necessarily the most appropriate action. Instead, a separate stream of escalating actions advises the employee that their attendance level is unsatisfactory and warns that if improvement is not achieved further action will be applied, including, ultimately, dismissal.”

Last year 32 cases resulted in eight dismissals.