28th November 2021

Llanelli Online News

Llanelli's First For Hyperlocal News

Sickness levels fall among Carmarthenshire council staff

SICKNESS levels dropped sharply among Carmarthenshire Council 7,700-strong workforce last year.

There were 47,268 days lost to sickness in 2020-21 – a decrease of nearly 28% compared to the previous year.

It meant employees on average took the equivalent of 7.7 days off sick. The figure for 2019-20 was 10.7 days.

The drop of nearly 46% in short-term sickness was particularly marked in 2020-21.

A report before the council’s policy and resources scrutiny committee said reasons for this may have included Covid school closures and home-working, which suits many people.

Around 900 council staff were redeployed to critical frontline areas during the pandemic. Officers told committee members at a meeting on July 21 that many of these workers relished their new roles, and that there were also fewer workplace disputes across the board.

Cllr Deryk Cundy said the figures showed “a majorly impressive response from our staff to the situation”.

Stress, and mental health and fatigue were the main causes of sickness absence.

The council developed a temporary Covid sickness guide and offered a range of health and well-being support and advice for staff.

Pay was increased for agency teaching staff when they were needed at school hubs, which were set up in the early days of the pandemic.

And maternity lump sums also rose for teachers, teaching assistants and support staff.

A mix of home and office-based working is set to become formalised for council staff, but if they need to go into the workplace they are supported.

Officers were asked at the meeting where managers and employees should be based.

Assistant chief executive Paul Thomas said: “There is no straightforward answer but, for me, the business comes first but then we need to be flexible in terms of perhaps physical locations as well.

“But one thing is a given – we are not going to go back to how it used to be.”

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