Culture change needed to tackle City of York Council's sickness rates

First published in News York Press: Photograph of the Author by , mark.stead@thepress.co.uk

A CULTURE change is needed among council bosses and staff in York if sickness levels are to fall, according to a task group set up to analyse the issue.

Councillors who staged a review of City of York Council staff sickness rates have claimed some of the authority’s policy on illness is “not in plain English”.

They raised questions about whether managers receive the right training, saying a “rise in staff morale” was needed to reduce absence levels.

The sickness absence management scrutiny review, whose draft final report will be discussed at a meeting on Monday, also aired concerns about the cost to the council of staff missing or not turning up for occupational health appointments.

The bill for 2009/10 – the latest figures provided – was £13,744.

The task group said council policies must make it clear to employees that missing appointments without a good reason might mean disciplinary action.

A report produced by council scrutiny officers on the group’s findings said the Unison union, which was consulted, had said staff filling in for colleagues who are off sick – at the same time as hundreds of job cuts at the authority had a “knock-on negative effect” – and stress assessments needed to be carried out at an early stage. The union also questioned whether staff and managers got enough support over dealing with stress.

The report said: “The task group noted the council’s policy [on sickness absence] was lengthy, repetitive, in parts not in plain English, and trying to be all things to all people.

“It concluded the current policy document was not suitable and a short, clear and succinct policy for employees would be more appropriate.

“Overall, the task group concluded improvements in training and induction, an updating of the policy and a rise in staff morale would, over time, assist in changing the culture of the organisation.”

However, the report said the task group realised change would be “difficult and take time” and there was no “quick fix”.

Responding to Unison’s concerns, the council’s human resources department said work on “stress risk assessments” was continuing, but some training sessions on health issues had been “poorly attended”.

It said a “web portal” offering staff advice and support on areas including stress, health and debt management was being launched and a “first contact network”, where employees are trained to provide confidential advice, was operating, while counselling was available through the council’s occupational health contract with York Hospital.

Comments (11)

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9:32am Sat 26 Jan 13

Paul Meoff says...

Culture change or policy change?

Just don't employ workshy skivers who throw a sickie at the merest hint of a sniffle or twinge.
Culture change or policy change? Just don't employ workshy skivers who throw a sickie at the merest hint of a sniffle or twinge. Paul Meoff
  • Score: 0

9:50am Sat 26 Jan 13

technobabe says...

How can morale improve when staff are all in fear of losing their jobs or having to do the work of two because of cuts?
How can morale improve when staff are all in fear of losing their jobs or having to do the work of two because of cuts? technobabe
  • Score: 0

10:00am Sat 26 Jan 13

Paul Meoff says...

technobabe wrote:
How can morale improve when staff are all in fear of losing their jobs or having to do the work of two because of cuts?
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Worried about losing my job. Therefore throw sickies. Therefore lose job.
[quote][p][bold]technobabe[/bold] wrote: How can morale improve when staff are all in fear of losing their jobs or having to do the work of two because of cuts?[/p][/quote]It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Worried about losing my job. Therefore throw sickies. Therefore lose job. Paul Meoff
  • Score: 0

10:43am Sat 26 Jan 13

bob the builder says...

One of the last places where sick leave is thought of as an addition to annual leave and taken as such. It's time to privatise the day to day running of councils and make all staff accountable, and efficient. Watch your council tax bill decrease if that happened, but it wont as there are too many snouts in the trough at all levels in local government, and the unions see it as a quick, cheap and easy way to get one of theirs into government when Labour are in power.
One of the last places where sick leave is thought of as an addition to annual leave and taken as such. It's time to privatise the day to day running of councils and make all staff accountable, and efficient. Watch your council tax bill decrease if that happened, but it wont as there are too many snouts in the trough at all levels in local government, and the unions see it as a quick, cheap and easy way to get one of theirs into government when Labour are in power. bob the builder
  • Score: 0

10:56am Sat 26 Jan 13

peterstreet says...

roman adcashovich wrote:
Once they get into Galloway Towers sickness will plummet. Five star restaurants and gyms all paid for by the council tax payers. Alexander in his Penthouse (how Steve will be crying "that was mine, not fair!!! throw my teddy out the pram") drinking Dom and eating fillet steak like the man on the people he so isn't. Let's all have a look at the waste of our money this weelend.
What's a weelend? whining buffoon!
[quote][p][bold]roman adcashovich[/bold] wrote: Once they get into Galloway Towers sickness will plummet. Five star restaurants and gyms all paid for by the council tax payers. Alexander in his Penthouse (how Steve will be crying "that was mine, not fair!!! throw my teddy out the pram") drinking Dom and eating fillet steak like the man on the people he so isn't. Let's all have a look at the waste of our money this weelend.[/p][/quote]What's a weelend? whining buffoon! peterstreet
  • Score: 0

1:54pm Sat 26 Jan 13

johnwill says...

The best employees thrive and show their strengths when under pressure, the others give up and go home. Pick the best get rid of the rest, it can be done, even under current employment laws. There are plenty of very good people looking for work who would jump at the chance of getting a job with York council.
The best employees thrive and show their strengths when under pressure, the others give up and go home. Pick the best get rid of the rest, it can be done, even under current employment laws. There are plenty of very good people looking for work who would jump at the chance of getting a job with York council. johnwill
  • Score: 0

4:36pm Sat 26 Jan 13

R'Marcus says...

Paul Meoff wrote:
Culture change or policy change?

Just don't employ workshy skivers who throw a sickie at the merest hint of a sniffle or twinge.
You, of course, is quite right.
York Council-just do not employ the work-shy.
[quote][p][bold]Paul Meoff[/bold] wrote: Culture change or policy change? Just don't employ workshy skivers who throw a sickie at the merest hint of a sniffle or twinge.[/p][/quote]You, of course, is quite right. York Council-just do not employ the work-shy. R'Marcus
  • Score: 0

5:27pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Caecilius says...

bob the builder wrote:
One of the last places where sick leave is thought of as an addition to annual leave and taken as such. It's time to privatise the day to day running of councils and make all staff accountable, and efficient. Watch your council tax bill decrease if that happened, but it wont as there are too many snouts in the trough at all levels in local government, and the unions see it as a quick, cheap and easy way to get one of theirs into government when Labour are in power.
Yeah, right. Watch the cost to the consumer fall, just like it has since the privatisation of gas, electricity, the railways, etc., etc.

As a matter of fact, some of the biggest (and most dishonest) wasters I ever did business with were employees of a building firm, who would pitch up mid-morning, sit in their van and waste a bit of time, then announce they needed to go to a builder's merchant "to get some materials" When they came back, an hour later, it would be time for a tea break. They sure as hell weren't efficient, and their boss didn't seem to be capable of holding them accountable, either. Anyone who assumes that private sector involvement equals efficiency and value for money is deluding themself.
[quote][p][bold]bob the builder[/bold] wrote: One of the last places where sick leave is thought of as an addition to annual leave and taken as such. It's time to privatise the day to day running of councils and make all staff accountable, and efficient. Watch your council tax bill decrease if that happened, but it wont as there are too many snouts in the trough at all levels in local government, and the unions see it as a quick, cheap and easy way to get one of theirs into government when Labour are in power.[/p][/quote]Yeah, right. Watch the cost to the consumer fall, just like it has since the privatisation of gas, electricity, the railways, etc., etc. As a matter of fact, some of the biggest (and most dishonest) wasters I ever did business with were employees of a building firm, who would pitch up mid-morning, sit in their van and waste a bit of time, then announce they needed to go to a builder's merchant "to get some materials" When they came back, an hour later, it would be time for a tea break. They sure as hell weren't efficient, and their boss didn't seem to be capable of holding them accountable, either. Anyone who assumes that private sector involvement equals efficiency and value for money is deluding themself. Caecilius
  • Score: 0

9:03pm Sat 26 Jan 13

Harry Ballacks says...

johnwill wrote:
The best employees thrive and show their strengths when under pressure, the others give up and go home. Pick the best get rid of the rest, it can be done, even under current employment laws. There are plenty of very good people looking for work who would jump at the chance of getting a job with York council.
Quite true. There are too many who take sick leave like its annual leave & get full time pay for (unofficial) part time hours. Get rid of them & let those who actually give a sh1t about their jobs, keep them. It really is time CYC sorted the wheat from the chaff, and that's putting it very politely.
[quote][p][bold]johnwill[/bold] wrote: The best employees thrive and show their strengths when under pressure, the others give up and go home. Pick the best get rid of the rest, it can be done, even under current employment laws. There are plenty of very good people looking for work who would jump at the chance of getting a job with York council.[/p][/quote]Quite true. There are too many who take sick leave like its annual leave & get full time pay for (unofficial) part time hours. Get rid of them & let those who actually give a sh1t about their jobs, keep them. It really is time CYC sorted the wheat from the chaff, and that's putting it very politely. Harry Ballacks
  • Score: 0

10:19am Sun 27 Jan 13

Paul Meoff says...

The Great Boda wrote:
roman adcashovich wrote:
peterstreet wrote:
roman adcashovich wrote:
Once they get into Galloway Towers sickness will plummet. Five star restaurants and gyms all paid for by the council tax payers. Alexander in his Penthouse (how Steve will be crying "that was mine, not fair!!! throw my teddy out the pram") drinking Dom and eating fillet steak like the man on the people he so isn't. Let's all have a look at the waste of our money this weelend.
What's a weelend? whining buffoon!
If all you can pick up is a typo you're a **** ****
That buffoon Galloway had no space in there for councillors at all. They were going to stay in the grotty old Guildhall.

I soon put a stop to that! Nice big office for me. Nice big office for my cabinet friends and some other space for the riff raft back bench cattle I need to vote through my plans.

Can you believe that last lot had no leaders office and no Personal Assistant?!?!? Who's going to do the work while I'm away having my photo taken? Big office. Paid personal assistant all at tax payers expense. #Jobdone #suckers
You really come across as a complete c0ck. If you were vaguely amusing it would be understandable but sad and pathetic is what springs to mind.
[quote][p][bold]The Great Boda[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]roman adcashovich[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]peterstreet[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]roman adcashovich[/bold] wrote: Once they get into Galloway Towers sickness will plummet. Five star restaurants and gyms all paid for by the council tax payers. Alexander in his Penthouse (how Steve will be crying "that was mine, not fair!!! throw my teddy out the pram") drinking Dom and eating fillet steak like the man on the people he so isn't. Let's all have a look at the waste of our money this weelend.[/p][/quote]What's a weelend? whining buffoon![/p][/quote]If all you can pick up is a typo you're a **** ****[/p][/quote]That buffoon Galloway had no space in there for councillors at all. They were going to stay in the grotty old Guildhall. I soon put a stop to that! Nice big office for me. Nice big office for my cabinet friends and some other space for the riff raft back bench cattle I need to vote through my plans. Can you believe that last lot had no leaders office and no Personal Assistant?!?!? Who's going to do the work while I'm away having my photo taken? Big office. Paid personal assistant all at tax payers expense. #Jobdone #suckers[/p][/quote]You really come across as a complete c0ck. If you were vaguely amusing it would be understandable but sad and pathetic is what springs to mind. Paul Meoff
  • Score: 0

10:37am Sun 27 Jan 13

Digeorge says...

Take away their six months off sick full pay and their sick pay, they will soon be back at work!

Amazing how many people turn back to work after six months off sick the next week! This is general in public organisations, some people have a habit of it, then they come back on phased return! Then off again and it becomes a vicious cycle.

Don't pay them for 3 days and then it should be discretionary. i.e. substantial medical information like in hospital, awaiting tests and investigations. Like tighten up sick leave policy.

Stress is a very easy diagnosis to make and an excuse for a lot of people. Unless there are general reasons for it and under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist then perhaps it should be reviewed.
Take away their six months off sick full pay and their sick pay, they will soon be back at work! Amazing how many people turn back to work after six months off sick the next week! This is general in public organisations, some people have a habit of it, then they come back on phased return! Then off again and it becomes a vicious cycle. Don't pay them for 3 days and then it should be discretionary. i.e. substantial medical information like in hospital, awaiting tests and investigations. Like tighten up sick leave policy. Stress is a very easy diagnosis to make and an excuse for a lot of people. Unless there are general reasons for it and under the care of a psychiatrist or psychologist then perhaps it should be reviewed. Digeorge
  • Score: 0

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