A report with the title “Civil service sickness report: £37m could be saved each year, says Stormont committee” was published in the BBC on date 21st April, 2015. The report describes that a better management of sickness absence in the Northern Ireland civil service can help a saving of £37m each year. (https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-32387710)
The sickness absence rates in the civil service department of Northern Ireland has been higher than those of the Great Britain. A review of sickness absence in public sectors reveals the fact that, there is a consistent failure in meeting the targets. On bringing the public sector sickness levels in Northern Ireland into line with that of the Great Britain, a sum up to £37 million each year can be saved as found by a Stormont committee report. The Committee for Finance and Personnel says, “A ‘consistent failure’ to meet absenteeism targets is something that has to be tackled ‘as a matter of urgency’”. A research conducted by the committee reveals, the average number of days lost to sickness is 10.1 as compared to 7.6 in the Great Britain whereas the target is 9.0 only. Following the review of sickness absence, Daithi McKay (the chairman) explained a downward trend in absence rates in civil service departments. Though the no recorded sickness absence percentage has been shoot up to 55 percent of last year figure, yet the long-term sickness absence killed 30% of working days during the year 2012-13 on account of mental stress is still a major concern to be dealt with, as reported by the chief investigator Mr. Abbott (https://manchester-privateinvestigators.co.uk). Mr. McKay again adds, “There can be no doubt that good practice policies on preventing and managing sickness absence do already exist. However, the committee feels that these need to be applied much more rigorously and consistently across all government departments and public sectors.” The Department for Social Development as a continuous implementation of the rules, has been the only Government department to achieve the target.
Finance Minister Simon Hamilton said to the assembly, “I welcome the recommendations contained within the report and acknowledge that sickness absence is a topic which requires constant attention, and there is always more work to be done. In relation to the Northern Ireland Civil Service and public sectors, which has been revealed in the study is either currently in place, under development or being considered for introduction.” Ulster Unionist leader Mike Nesbitt said, “Mental health and wellbeing were important. “I do think capacity building and resilience is key, not just for the civil service but for our people, so that they have a feeling of empowerment when things are starting to go wrong, that they know there are routes to be followed to put that right,” he adds. A clear agenda of rules and abiding them strictly will make the goal achieved as suggested by the chief investigator (firstname.lastname@example.org). Rules like not paying perks to the workers for the sickness absentees may boost the awareness.