A “close eye” is to be kept on a Northern Ireland council’s sick day levels after an audit report found an increase of around 30% in days lost to illness.
The Northern Ireland Audit Office has recorded an average of 20.66 days off per year for full time staff at Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) for the year ending March 2022.
This is compared to 13.6 for the same period the previous year, indicating a rise of 7.06 days and a red flag of concern on the corporate risk register as reviewed this month.
NMDDC audit committee independent chairperson, Brona Slevin said: “Staff illnesses are certainly on the increase as shown in the audit report. How is the 2022/23 year looking for absence levels?
“Can anything be done so we do not have an increase on these figures? The chamber was informed that sickness levels had been affected by Covid. However, under the Local Government Act, the council has a duty to secure continuous improvement.”
Director of corporate services, Josephine Kelly responded: “We have procedures in place. We are looking at how long staff have been off and for what reasons.
“We will be keeping a close eye on it, including short term and long term illness. There seems to be more people off now at the moment with different issues. We will be keeping it under review.”