OPEN plan offices at the council could be having an impact on staff wellbeing, a meeting heard.

And councillors raised fears that staff providing frontline services - like bin collections, social work and highway maintenance - are dealing with “unmanageable workloads”.

City of York Council lost 23,000 working days to staff sickness in 2017 and since then the local authority has been working to reduce absence.

The average number of sick days has dropped slightly, a meeting heard, from 11.9 per year last November to slightly more than 11 in June.

But in some departments staff sickness is far higher - at 24.1 days a year for the team which works on waste services, highways and fleet and 18.4 for health and adult social care workers.

Trudy Forster, head of human resources at the council, told a meeting that some staff believe working in an open plan office contributes to absence.

She said: “At West Offices there is an acknowledgement that desk space is not necessarily readily available.

“That said, there is desk space, it’s knowing how to use it and how it’s managed.

“I think there’s a perception that if we’re all coughing and sneezing in that kind of environment, that might lead to further absence

“I think in one department it was felt they couldn’t necessarily all sit together at the same time and therefore have that supportive environment.”

The meeting also heard nearly a quarter of council staff said their workload was not manageable. But only 38 per cent of staff responded to the survey.

Cllr Stuart Barnes said: “It really looks as if there’s a major issue. We’re going out and telling the public they can expect a certain service level but the staff who really know the work inside out are telling us loud and clear it can’t be done.”

Ms Forster said workload is a concern - adding that anyone who goes off sick with stress or mental health problems is immediately provided with support.

She said some staff did not reply to the survey because they felt it would change nothing.

Cllr Dave Taylor said he was worried by the response rate, adding: “I think that is of great concern.”