Time and attendance in councils an issue

At a time when most governments (not just the Irish) need to cut down on government spending in order to save money, across the water over in England a recent enough claim by the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) that stated that annual sick leave costs local councils £1.3 billion a year (£595 per employee) combined with a story in the Daily Telegraph on local authorities absenteeism rates have thrown up some interesting and worrying facts that show that some of that cost could be prevented.

In a recent story by the Daily Telegraph backed up through Data obtained under the “Freedom of Information Act”, the extent of absenteeism in the UKs’ local authorities was revealed to be quite unacceptably high when compared to absenteeism rates recorded in the private sector. In the Daily Telegraph it was shown that employees at some local councils in the UK have been taking, on average, over 12.5 days sick leave annually. One of the worst offenders was Hull City Council with an average of 12.6 days but even the best performer of the bunch recorded, Calderdale, still had an average sick leave of 6.1 days. What is so damning about the report was how it compared to the average rate of absenteeism recorded in the private sector which was 5.8 days. That’s .3days better on average than the most disciplined of the local councils’ Calderdale and 6.7 days better than the councils average.

So why the big divide and what can be done to monitor and check excess absentee rates?
One way may be for local authorities to follow most private sectors example and perhaps invest in electronic time and attendance systems that help keep track of the sick leave records of their staff and find out who are the worst offenders. It would be interesting to see how the Bradford Factor would measure the public and private sector absentee rates here in Ireland.

Whatever the results here would be, this story highlights further the divide, in some cases, between costs in the public and private sectors. It may serve as a wake-up for public sectors to consider investing in some of the technologies and work practices that their more successful private sectors avail of.

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