Sickness absence on the rise in the Northern Ireland Civil Service

Civil service staff sickness in Northern Ireland is on the increase, a report from the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) has revealed.

Thursday, 22nd September 2016, 2:39 pm
Updated Wednesday, 5th October 2016, 2:42 pm
Woman with tissue and hot drink

Published today, the report reveals civil servants were off sick for an average of 11.7 days in the last year (2015/2016), an increase from 10.8 days in the previous year.

The figure is above the annual target of 8.5 days, and equated to an estimated £32.7m of lost production.

Key findings of the report also reveal that the “11.7 days lost per staff year represented 5.3% of the available working days in 2015/2016 and in salary terms can be equated to an estimated £32.7 million of lost production”.

The report adds: “Though half of staff had no recorded absence, over one in ten staff had at least one long-term absence spell lasting an average of nearly three months.

“This was the highest incidence of long-term absence in the last five years and accounted for nearly three quarters of all working days lost.

“As in previous years, the main reason for absence was Anxiety/Stress/ Depression/Other Psychiatric Illnesses which accounted for one out of every three days lost. Just under one third of the working days lost in this illness category were recorded as work-related stress.”

The report added that the “level of absence ranged from 7.3 days for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to 15.9 days for the Department of Justice”.

“The Department for Social Development made the biggest contribution to the overall increase in absence level for 2015/2016, accounting for almost two thirds of the rise.

“The absence level of females (13.5 days) remained higher than that for males (10.0 days). Almost two thirds of this difference was due to gender-specific absences.”