The Municipal Journal reports(£) on some good progress made by Conservative-run Staffordshire County Council in reducing sickness absence by 8%. That amounts to 9,000 fewer sick days a year.
The new policy means the council’s absence rate is an average of 7.68 days per employee, the same as for the private sector. It estimates the fewer sick days are equivalent to 36 full-time employees or £540,000 worth of productivity.
The new policy was launched last February, with every tier of management receiving monthly absence reports for their teams. A pilot physiotherapy service was also established for staff with musculoskeletal conditions.
Cllr Ian Parry, Cabinet Member for Finance and Transformation, said:
"It is not about being harsh or unreasonable, but by focusing on early intervention, we can ensure we are getting people the right treatment that allows them to come back to work. The counselling service has reduced psychological-related absence by 14% through concentrating efforts on early support.
"Our Pilot Physiotherapy service has helped us achieve a 12% reduction in musculoskeletal absence and shown a 300% return on our investment."
As well as saving money it will also avoid the annoyance for residents ringing up and finding the person they were dealing with was off and they had to start from the beginning with a colleague.
Of course a rigorous approach should be about simple good management rather than a party political issue. But Labour councils have a disadvanteg in that Labour councillors are beholden to the trade unions.