Council loses 17 days due to absent staff

Smiley Buildings.
Smiley Buildings.

Newly released figures from the NI Audit Office show the average number of working days lost by local council employees is the second highest in the country.

The statistics show an average of 17 days were lost by employees at Mid and East Antrim Borough Council for 2017/2018.

For the 2016/17 term, the local authority recorded the highest level of absenteeism, with an average of over 18 days being lost.

Commenting on the issue, a council spokesperson said: “The most recent figures (for 2018-2019) show that over the past year council’s absenteeism figure was 14.05 days – an improvement of more than three days per employee compared to the previous year.

“We’re confident that by continuing to work closely with our employees and unions this will reduce further. In April of this year we introduced a revised, more dynamic attendance policy, developed by our dedicated absence reduction project team and shaped by best practice. The revised policy is aimed at further improving the support and care network available to staff, and implementing improved measures to better identify and address issues with absenteeism. We are committed to improving attendance within the council, for the betterment of our staff and ratepayers.”

In comparison, neighbouring Antrim and Newtownabbey Council experienced the lowest number of days lost for the 2017/18 period, where an average of under 12 days was recorded. This number was down from 2016/17, when an average of over 14 days were lost.

Welcoming the results, a council spokesperson said: “Council believes the Audit Offices findings and the recent ‘Highly Commended’ award by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development for Health and Wellbeing recognises our flexible approach to supporting people back to work through phased returns, alternative duties, access to counselling services and occupational health professionals.”