Matt Rawdon (will talk through a set of slides, the presentation will be circulated to Members after the meeting)
M Rawdon gave a presentation update to the Committee on the sickness project.
Cllr Tindall raised the following points/questions:
· The short term gastro and headaches could be an early indication of stress and if monitored it could reduce the long term problem.
· Have Dacorum investigated the potential value for money of insuring against staff being off sick?
· Is sickness analysed in terms of patterns etc?
· Has any analysis been undertaken on the vacancies and their impact which could lease to stress?
· Would like to continue recording long-term and short-term sickness separately.
Cllr Douris added the following:
· Has any analysis been done on morale and if this affects attendance?
· Have other authorities been contacted to compare what we are doing?
M Rawdon said that morale is gauged in the staff survey and has been pretty consistent. Cllr Douris said that there had been a certain amount of disgruntlement as we have had a dispute with the unions.
Cllr Harden asked about thematic issues and how these are being dealt with.
M Rawdon said that we have done benchmarking with other authorities and our policies were found to be very robust within our area, we are able to withhold sick pay.
The Chairman asked if warnings and withholding pay applied to all. M Rawdon confirm that it was fairly applied.
Cllr Tindall pointed out that the staff survey response was low, that tells us more about the disgruntlement of staff. M Rawdon said that 52% of staff had responded and this was just above the average response rate.
N Howcutt confirmed that the survey is going to be undertaken annually.
Cllr Taylor indicated that morale should be discussed at appraisals rather than through an unnamed report. Cllr Tindall added that a good manager should know how staff are feeling.
Cllr McLean asked if there was statistics available on absences and the staff who were allowed to work flexibly versus those who not. M Rawdon said this could be looked at and provided to the Committee.
Action: M Rawdon
Cllr Collins said she would be interested to know if when we are interviewing if any account was taken if it was a man or a woman. Some reports had shown that men below the age of 40 had less sickness than women aged below 40 and that women over 40 had less sickness than men. M Rawdon confirmed that we had to comply with the equalities act and treated everyone the same regardless of age or gender.
Cllr Wyatt-Lowe suggested that there is a lot you can do in terms of wellbeing for alleviating musculoskeletal problems and also do we rely on GP’s to sign people as fit for work, could we use an independent assessor to get people back to work. M Rawdon replied that we have an Occupational Health Practitioner who we use to challenge the medical advice and supports staff back to work. It sounds expensive but M Rawdon would be willing to explore the options.
Action: M Rawdon
Cllr Tindall asked about hot-desking and how often tests were carried out on the keyboards and chairs to ensure there aren’t any pressures. M Rawdon confirmed that every new member of staff will do a self assessment, there are people trained to help. M Rawdon said it could picked up as part of the Return to Work interview.
Action: M Rawdon
Cllr Tindall asked if there were any incidents of RSI or upper limb disorder. M Rawdon said that it would be considered if it was a problem in the trends.
Cllr Harden mentioned that hot-desking didn’t seem to be a problem as some staff had their own chairs, also people are creatures of habit and a lot seem to be sitting in the same place.
N Howcutt advised that he is a new member of staff and as a new employee he had undertaken a DSE assessment which was very detailed and gave a lot of information on how to make adjustments to workstations and chairs. It was a very robust system.
Cllr Douris stated that he believes Occupational Health are situated far away and there is a private medical service up at Maylands costing about £95 per review, surely it would be more cost effective for them to do the return to work certificate.
The Chairman enquired if people who were off sick was offered redeployment within a certain timescale. M Rawdon responded that it depended on the medical information we received. The Chairman requested this continued.