Employee sickness levels at a Northern Ireland council has risen to almost 20,000 days in the last year.
A new human resources (HR) report was delivered to Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) on Thursday night (November 17) showing an increase in sick leave of around 30% compared to last year.
In total 19,774 work days were lost up to September 30, 2022 compared to 13,785 over the same period last year.
Coronavirus and vaccine reaction sickness accounted for just under 20% of days taken off work.
The council’s health committee deputy chairperson, Gavin Malone (Ind) who is a former employee of NMDDC urged the local authority to engage with the health needs of staff members.
He said: “It is worrying that the figures for sick leave are increasing on such a high scale at the council.
“As a former employee of NMDDC I know that people are not just taking time off with illness just for the sake of it.
“There needs to be a more detailed breakdown of the reasons for such a high amount of sickness and what can be done to bring this statistic down. Employees’ health should be paramount.
“I would ask that the council provides more resources for employees to connect with them and communicate any health concerns.
“There are people who will have been off sick for a few days and there will be employees who have been off on long sick leave and they especially will need to be helped to come back to work.”
The council states that all directories in NMDDC saw an increase in sick leave this year compared to 2021.
HR manger, Philip Preen states in his report: “A phased implementation of ‘People, Perform, Grow’ provides a platform for individuals to discuss health and wellbeing with their managers.
“Council continues to invest in employee wellbeing through the provision of a funded health cash plan for employees and through health promotion initiatives by the employee led health and wellbeing working group.
“The HR department continues to support managers in the application of council’s managing attendance procedure.”