Managing absence continues to be an issue giving rise
to problems across all businesses both in the private and public sector. It is
an issue in X Council – a public authority which has to be managed.
While some absence due to sickness is
inevitable, good management can help to minimise it by ensuring that the causes
of work-related ill-health are addressed and staff are helped back to work as
soon as possible.
believes absence is an employee’s non availability for work when work is available for that employee.
Employees not showing up for work when scheduled can be a major problem for
organisations (Spector 2003). The majority of jobs require someone’s presence
even when the scheduled person is not there.
Absence can be
scheduled or unscheduled. Scheduled absences are easier to deal with as notice
is usually given to the employer, giving time to provide cover or job rotation.
However, unscheduled absences are without a doubt, the main difficulty.
Within X Council,
absenteeism results in an increased workload among colleagues, consequently
lowering productivity; it impacts on the provision of services to the local
community, increases costs as a result of occupational sick pay, statutory sick
pay and temporary cover. It is an issue
which needs to be addressed and determining the best solution requires a
problem solving process.
without a doubt, have an impact on the overall service delivery of both a team
and a department as a whole.
inevitably always been a problem and continues to increase. Reasons for an
increase could be due to a number of factors. In some departments with high
absence figures, this may be due to one or two long term absences, which
consequently increase the overall absence figures for the department. It has
also been noted that in some departments/centres, absence isn’t an issue.
However, it has been discovered absences tend to be higher in operational based
centres as opposed to office based departments.
X Council’s Senior Management
Team are acutely aware of how sickness absence effects service delivery and the
costly burden on the local ratepayer. X rates are currently one of the lowest
in the 26 districts. In 2008/09 X Council had the lowest non-domestic rate and
the second lowest domestic rate in the Province. In 2009/10 X Council has the
second lowest non-domestic rate and the third lowest domestic rate. The
importance of keeping the district rate low in the current economic climate
cannot be underestimated.
According to X
Report (Jan 2009) in the three year period 2002-2005, X Council has experienced
a slight increase in its three year absenteeism rate, from 9.61 days in 2002-05
to 9.82 in 2005-08. The rate remains well below the X Council average which was
13.4 days in the period 2005-2008. Consequently the Council aim to keep the
overall figures as low as possible.
interviewing Centre Managers and Directors, my aim was to discover their views
and recommendations in order to propose a solution to target absence.