City and Islington Council tackles absence

City and Islington Council has launched an occupational health scheme to help deal with long-term sickness absence among its 1,100 employees. Its current total absence rate stands at around 4%.

Through the service, the council is able to refer employees to an occupational health consultant at provider Health Management from the first day that they are absent. The consultant will then provide them with a referral for treatment if necessary.

Kerry McEyeson, head of personnel, said that the service enabled staff to receive treatment more quickly than on the National Health Service. “In the past, if an employee needed occupational health we would refer them, they would then trek halfway across London to some obscure hospital and then we would wait two weeks for the report,” she explained.

The scheme includes a return-to-work service and rehabilitation programme. The council can also access advice about coping with employees’ illnesses.

“The turnaround times for referred staff are a lot quicker, and there is a support line for HR which means we can have conversations and get advice about absence and illness,” added McEyeson.