Stress is greatest cause of sick leave for Angus Council staff

Stress was by far the most common reason for absence. (Photo posed by model)

Stressed teachers have kept Angus Council’s sickness absence rate on an unwelcome upward curve.

For the second quarter in succession, and after more than a year of falling sickness statistics, the authority has suffered a double figure percentage hike in lost working days.

The sick pay cost to the council of 11,961 days off between October and December was £951,681 more than 3% of total salary costs.

Despite some positives in the report which will go before councillors this week, officials have admitted disappointment at the overall picture.

Human resources chief Sharon Faulkner’s report states: “For all council employees there was a 2.26% decrease in the percentage of working days lost when compared with the corresponding quarter in 2013/14.

“However, overall the percentage of working days lost has increased this quarter compared to the previous quarter by 10.7%, a continuation of the increase from the last quarter, which ended a 15-month period of reducing sickness absence levels.

“This increase is a result of an increase in teachers’ absence by 4.9%. Local government employees’ absence reduced by 3%.”

Even so, between October and December the average number of days lost per employee was higher for local government staff (2.65) than for teachers (1.48), with an overall average of 2.37 days.

Teachers accounted for 1,775 of days lost and local government employees for 10,186.

Absences of more than 20 days accounted for more than 50% of days lost.

Across the period, 33% were one-day absences, 45% two to five days, 13% six to 20 days and 9% 20 days or more. The single day absences accounted for just 5% of total days lost, two to five days for 20%, six to 20 days 23% and more than 20 days 52%.

Stress-related sickness caused 23% of absences, more than any other reason.

Stomach (12.4%), back (8.4%), lower limb (6.9%) and respiratory (6.6%) problems were other contributors, with a 5.9% rate for colds and flu.

The Unison union has said that more work pressures and falling standards of living for council employees were contributing to greater sickness levels.