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Buy back days offered to South Lakeland District Council staff
COUNCIL staff are being allowed to take more time off work – in a bid to cut sickness rates and boost morale.
The 400-strong South Lakeland District Council workforce will be allowed to buy up to 10 days extra leave – on top of their annual holiday entitlement.
SLDC bosses say it could ‘boost motivation’ and save the authority money in wages.
During the past financial year, staff took 3,000 days off sick – equivalent to every member of staff having 7.94 days off ill.
It cost the public purse £215,000.
But because absence overall was marginally down – it represented a £27,348 saving on the previous year’s costs.
The new policy has been approved by councillors.
A report by Simon McVey, the council’s assistant director for policy and performance, said it was hoped extra holidays would allow employees to ‘better meet’ their ‘personal commitments.’
The new holiday means staff can take over their official entitlement as long as they pay it back by having it deducted from their salary.
Previously, the policy only applied to staff with two years service.
Fourteen employees took advantage of buying extra holiday last year.
But after talks between union officials and council human resources managers, the policy has been relaxed to now apply to all staff – providing they have completed a probationary period.
In a report members were told that the Equality Act meant those employees prevented from taking advantage of the policy could legally challenge SLDC.
The council’s human resources committee approved the changes.
The biggest reason for sickness at the council was given as ‘musculo-skeletal’ – amounting to 928 lost days or 32 per cent of all sickness.
The second biggest cause of staff absence was given as ‘cold, flu, chest and respiratory problems’ – amounting to 359 days lost.
General sickness, stomach upset and diarrhoea also saw 258 days lost.
Back and neck problems accounted for 294 days lost. Work-related stress accounted for six per cent of all illness, and stress and depression accounted for 169 days off.
A total of 155 council employees had no days off sick at all and were praised as a result.
The council has also warned about the danger of ‘presenteeism’ – staff turning in for work when they are ill.
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