Chancellor targets public sector ‘sickies’

The chancellor pledged to tackle sickness levels in the public
sector in his three-year spending review announced this week.

Gordon Brown explained that better management of sickness absence
in the public sector should release resources to meet priorities
and release employees with good attendance records from the
pressures of covering for colleagues.

Work and pensions secretary Andrew Smith will commission a review
of the public sector’s management of long-term sickness to report
in the autumn. It will look at the costs to the public sector,
trends and causes of long-term absence, and the scope for
introducing incentives for good attendance.

In 2002, a survey of 171 social services departments found the
average annual sickness rate per employee was 16.1 days, with
stress being a significant factor.

British Association of Social Workers director Ian Johnston called
for the review to concentrate on and address the reasons behind the
sickness levels.

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