News update – Prize offer fights fire service absenteeism

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service is offering its 1,600 staff prize incentives of a car, cash draws and occupational health services in a bid to cut absenteeism levels.

The package has been designed to incentivise employees who are absent for an average of 10.6 days each year. The project is already under way and offers a £1,000 cash draw every three months for employees who have not taken any days off sick during that period. Employees who manage to go for a whole year without taking a day off sick get the chance to enter an annual raffle to win a car.

An employee assistance programme (EAP), physiotherapy services, health checks, health advice clinics and rehabilitation initiatives are all being offered free to staff. Icas is providing these benefits.

Tony Williams, personnel manager at Merseyside Fire and Rescue, said: "Absenteeism can be a problem, but with the help of Icas and the new car raffle, which has taken time to develop, we hope to get employees back to work as soon as possible." The fire and rescue service already operates an absentee monitoring scheme that detects staff who are regularly absent, and alerts managers on the need to issue a warning.

The fire service has also decided to introduce childcare vouchers to all staff, following a successful roll out of a home computing scheme and bikes for work.