A range of initiatives undertaken by the Office of Human Resources is having a positive impact on absence figures, resulting in a saving of £638,000 for the first 6 months of the financial year. Figures for April to September 2012 show a significant reduction in the average number of days lost per employee compared with the corresponding period last year.
The Chief Minister said:
'These latest statistics are very encouraging and represent a major step in the right direction. The action being taken to address staff sickness absence is beginning to pay dividends and I hope the levels will continue to fall over the second half of the year. The vast majority of Government employees work very conscientiously to serve the people of the Isle of Man, and most cases of sickness absence are genuine. However, there was concern that the system was open to abuse by a minority and needed to be addressed.'
One of Mr Bell's first actions following his election as Chief Minister last year was to ask the Office of Human Resources to produce a plan on the issue and provide regular progress reports for the Council of Ministers.
The latest figures show an 18% reduction in the number of days lost per employee in the Civil Service - 3.43 days for April-September 2012, compared with 4.22 days for the corresponding 6 months last year. The number of days lost per employee across the public sector has decreased by 9.5%, from 3.68 in 2011 to 3.33 over the first half of this year.
The most common reasons for absences are 'musculoskeletal problems', 'stress, anxiety, depression' and 'operations, hospitalisation'. Long-term absence accounts for more than 60% of all sickness absence. A comprehensive framework of measures and support, including specialist training, self-care in the workplace courses and rehabilitation guidance, is being implemented in order to address these issues.
Employees experiencing musculoskeletal problems are encouraged to use the self-referral system promoted by the Department of Health's physiotherapy department, and training of managers is being extended to include sessions on resilience and the management of stress.
The Chief Minister said:
'We are in a challenging financial environment and Government must do everything within its power to generate new efficiencies. This includes reducing the cost of working days lost through staff sickness absence. While there is still room for improvement, the evidence reflects the positive progress that is being achieved.'