Staffordshire council reduces absence

Staffordshire County Council has reduced its absence levels. after introducing a range of initiatives aimed at lowering staff sickness levels.


Its latest Achieving excellence quarterly performance report showed that since December 2013, the average number of days lost through sicknesshas falled to 7.06 days per employee. Prior to December, this stood at 7.2 days per employee. 

This compares to 8.6 days nationally in the public sector and 7.7 nationally in the private sector.

The council credits the reduction in sickness absence to a package of measures introduced two years ago, which includes a physiotherapy service that offers immediate assessment and treatment to employees.

Managers can refer an employee within 24 hours of them calling in sick, so that physiotherapists can ssess their condition and begin treatment within 48 hours.

The initiative also focuses on preventing problems from arising in the first place, giving employees the opportunity to request referrals at the first sign of any symptoms.

Musculoskeletal-related absence

Before the initiative was introduced, musculoskeletal problems were the cause of 30% of the council’s sick days.

In 2012/13, it saw a 15% reduction in the proportion of days lost to musculoskeletal absence from 2011/12, equating to a saving of 4,800 days and almost £300,000. With the cost of providing physiotherapy at £20,000, this represents a 400% return on investment.

Ian Parry, deputy leader of Staffordshire County Council and the cabinet member responsible for HR, said: “Through a more innovative approach to addressing employee sickness absence it means we have more people delivering services to Staffordshire people.

“In addition to our physiotherapy pilot, more than 1,000 managers received training and information on staff absence. New reporting measures have also been introduced.

“We now have a more modern, effective approach to improve and maintain the health of our workforce and it is a real success story that we have reached a position where our sickness average is below both public and private sector national figures.”