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Chorley Council to tackle staff sickness rates

Staff sickness rates at Chorley Council are higher than hoped.
Staff sickness rates at Chorley Council are higher than hoped.
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Chorley Council is to try to reduce higher than expected rates of staff sickness at the authority.

The borough has missed its target for the average length of time staff are off work.

Figures for the first quarter of 2018/19 reveal an average absence rate of 2.41 days per employee, compared to a target of 2 days - described as “high” in the council’s latest performance report and an increase on the same period last year.

At a meeting of the authority’s cabinet, Executive Member for Public Protection, Paul Walmsley, questioned whether it was realistic to suggest the council could affect the rate.

“Is [the absence] work-related?” Cllr Walmsley asked. “Because if it’s things like flu, there’s very little we can do.”

Confirming that the main reason for the high rate was long-term sickness, deputy leader Peter Wilson said he did not know whether that - or short-term absence - had a more detrimental effect on the council’s ability to function.

Papers presented to the meeting show the majority of days are lost to problems caused by musculoskeletal injuries, recovery from operations and mental health issues.

Chief Executive Gary Hall told members that the council was already providing all the required health and safety training, but documents show a plan is in place to roll out further manual handling advice.

Employees will also be encouraged to consult the authority’s occupational health team before problems worsen and staff who have suffered injuries will be referred to physiotherapy.

Meanwhile, support for workers’ emotional wellbeing will also be increased.