Sick leave cost to town hall

Wigan Town Hall
Wigan Town Hall

Sick days are costing Wigan Council millions - and their frequency is double the national average.

A Freedom of Information request revealed that its workers took a total of 34,667 days off in 2016/17, costing the cash-strapped local authority £3.35m.

The town hall currently employs 4,258, excluding school staff, and they took an average of 8.14 sick days each, at cost of £787.12 per person.

The national average number of days lost due to sickness or illness per worker in 2016 was 4.3: the lowest recorded since the series began in 1993, when it was at 7.2.

According to 2016 statistics from the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development, the national average cost was £522 per worker, while in the public sector it was £835.

But this year’s sickness absence figures are an improvement on past ones. In 2015/16, sick leave cost the council £4.3m at an average cost of £988.73 per worker.

Council assistant director of human resources Sonia Halliwell said: “We are fully committed to ensuring staff are fit and healthy to deliver the best possible services to our residents and customers. We have worked hard to create a culture and environment that promotes health and wellbeing, prevents ill health and supports our employees.

“As the majority of our staff members live in Wigan borough it’s also hoped that the positive lifestyle changes extend to employees’ immediate family and friends.

“Through our approach to managing sickness absences and wide range of health and wellbeing initiatives such as health checks, health awareness sessions and training, healthy eating activities and many more, we have made positive progress to significantly reduce the cost of sickness absence levels.

“We will continue to explore innovative ways to reduce the current levels and further improve staff health and wellbeing. We have recently launched our Mental Health Strategy and signed the Time to Change Employer Pledge, a commitment to change how we think and act about mental health as an organisation.”