Sunderland City Council workers run up £10million sickness bill

Sunderland Civic Centre
Sunderland Civic Centre
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SUNDERLAND City Council workers have cost the taxpayer an average of £10million per year over the last three years due to sickness, the Echo can reveal.

The figures include statutory sick pay, occupational sick pay as well as related costs, including pension payments.

From November 2010 to October last year, the sick pay bill was £30million.

Tory opposition leader Robert Oliver said council bosses must clamp down on the issue, as they try to claw back £35million in 2014/2015.

He said: “The absence rate at Sunderland City Council has been historically high and always in excess of the private sector, consequently a huge amount of money has been paid out in sick pay.

“Many people will ask why the council should have an absence rate that is higher than in other jobs as there is no good reason for it and it has not declined sufficiently over the years.”

According to the council’s attendance management policy, which is available online, each worker’s entitlement is outlined in their contract of employment.

It states that formal disciplinary procedures are triggered when an employee is absent on three occasions within a six-month period or on five occasions within a 12-month period.

The council’s deputy leader Harry Trueman says the city council is taking a proactive approach to tackle the issue of workplace absence.

He said: “We are constantly striving to improve employees health and have achieved improvement with management of the situation.

“It is important that we continue to take this proactive approach which includes working with employees, some of whom have quite serious health issues, to find possible solutions to help them with their individual circumstances so they can remain at work.”