There has been a massive 17% fall in the number of days lost because of staff sickness in the Vale of Glamorgan Council in the period from April to September 2018 (inclusive) – but cases of stress are continuing to rise .
The council says the reduction in overall sickness rates has come about because of “several initiatives” and there has been a large drop in the cases of sickness amongst school staff.
The council has introduced a “Care First Employee Assistance Programme” which offers staff “confidential counselling and advice on a wide range of work and personal issues”.
Twice the number of council staff are now taking part in “Face to Face counselling sessions” than were doing so last year and the use of “guidance webpages for work-related issues” has also risen.
Cllr John Thomas, Leader of the Council, says “The Council has made a real effort to improve the health and wellbeing of staff in recent years and I’m delighted that this has led to a decrease in sickness levels.”
“This not only has a clear benefit to the productivity of the Council, but should also make a real difference to the people that work for the organisation. We take our duty of care towards staff extremely seriously and will continue to push for further improvement in this area.”
However the number of cases of “stress” amongst council staff has continued to rise.
The council says that “Stress continues to be the most common reason for sickness absence in the Council and it can be seen that the ratio of sickness absence relating to stress has increased from 28.8% to 30.4%.”
The worst affected departments are Social Services where 36.4% of staff absence is attributed to stress, Learning and Skills (33.8%) and Schools (30.9%)
In all cases of stress, the council automatically refers staff to occupational health for advice. Counselling is also offered and managers are given training and support in completing stress risk assessments.
A revised Mental Health & Wellbeing Policy is to be launched by the Vale Council later this month ,