Published 10 September 2020

West Dunbartonshire Council has seen a marked improvement in employee attendance with many services recording their lowest absences in four years.

West Dunbartonshire Council has seen a marked improvement in employee attendance with many services recording their lowest absences in four years.  

The latest Wellbeing Attendance Management report was presented to the Council’s Corporate Services Committee this week and highlighted a 14% reduction in the number of days lost to absence between April 1, 2019, and March 31, 2020.

The data presented revealed that absence figures are also lower than average in comparison to other public sector organisations benchmarked by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD).

The Council has introduced a significant number of initiatives in the last three years to support the workforce including provision for bereavement and disability leave as well as offering a range of options to anyone who suffers ill health including opportunities to undertake alternative duties, work from home, swap shifts or work flexibly to ensure services can be maintained.

The report also highlights a reduction in stress and mental health issues among employees which have both been prominent reasons for sickness absence in the past. Employees have access to a range of additional support measures including 24/7 counselling services, physiotherapy and professional Occupational Health Advisers.  

Work related stress is no longer featured among the top three reasons for absence across any service. CIPD 2020 Health and Wellbeing at Work reported 44% of public sector organisations in the UK reported an increase in work related stress, whilst West Dunbartonshire Council reported a decrease of 1163 days lost due to this after focusing interventions on  mental health awareness.

Feedback from the Employee Wellbeing Group,  which encourages employees to openly discuss and seek appropriate supports for their health, confirmed employees are feeling more comfortable discussing and sharing personal information with their managers allowing sickness absence to be accurately recorded.

Councillor Ian Dickson, Convener of Corporate Services, said: “We are a supportive employer and it is very encouraging to see the range of assistance available is making a difference and absence figures are reducing. There are times when due to short term or longer term health issues, people may be unable to undertake their duties and our focus has been on supporting them through this in any way we can. This includes early referrals to services such as Occupational Health, and offering  flexible and home working.  Our employees have a range of additional options available to them to avoid or reduce absence from work and this is clearly being reflected in the latest figures.”   

Councillor Iain McLaren, Vice Convener for Corporate Services, said: “It is important for us as an organisation to ensure we provide as much help and support to our employees to ensure we have a healthy, motivated and engaged workforce.  I’m sure our employees would agree that the supports and procedures we have in place are easy to access and are helping them reduce absence. It is also very encouraging to see the reduction in work related stress and mental health.”