Portsmouth City Council to scrap sick day targets as workers have been taking more than the UK average

SICK day targets will be scrapped by Portsmouth council after figures showed employees were taking two days a year more than the average local authority worker.

Monday, 9th March 2020, 11:21 am
Updated Monday, 9th March 2020, 4:23 pm
Portsmouth City Council workers took an average of 10.91 days off sick a year. Picture: César Moreno Huerta

Concerns were also raised that coronavirus could 'skew' absence figures, during an employment committee meeting, where it was confirmed that a new HR system would be used to accurately record those affected by the virus.

Portsmouth City Council previously had a sick day target of seven days per year for each worker.

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However, the most recent figures showed staff were taking an average of 10.91 days off a year. This was higher than the council average provided by the Local Government Association of 8.8 days.

Members of the committee agreed to remove the target. Councillor Cal Corkery said: 'If we're going to have a target it should be a target that's most relevant to us.'

Committee chairman Cllr Ben Dowling added: 'By my mind you're either there or not there. My preference would be scrapping the targets.'

Cllr Lynne Stagg raised the use of incentives. She said: 'What about rewards for people who have 100 per cent attendance?'

However, Rochelle Kneller, the council's assistant director of HR, said: 'The difficulty we have had when we discussed this before was around those people who were disabled or on maternity leave and other reasons people have absences. It can be very divisive.'

During the same meeting members asked about the effect of coronavirus.

Cllr Luke Stubbs said: 'There's been some announcement by government that sick pay would be payable from day one rather than day four, does that have any implications here and is there going to be any specific recording of people taking absences that are for that cause?'

Ms Kneller, assistant director of HR, confirmed staff would be paid from day one and said: 'In terms of the recording what we've asked for is three new categories to be set up on the system and that's to have isolation working from home, isolation unable to work from home and the coronavirus as the actual reason for absence.'

The average of 8.8 sick days a year was taken from 174 local councils in the UK.