Hike in council sick days due to work-related stress at same time as council staffing cuts


The number of sick days taken by staff at Neath Port Talbot Council due to work-related stress has risen by almost 50%, new figures show.

The figures also show a huge increase in staff taking time off due to anxiety disorders.

Head of human resources Sheenagh Rees said the increase in sickness had happened at the same time as cuts in staffing numbers at the council.

She said: “It’s entirely reasonable to draw some correlation between both the increased levels of sickness and the reduced overall headcount in the number of employees.”

She added: “There’s a number of mental health-related reasons for sickness absence in our top 10 reasons for sickness absence.

“We are doing a lot of work around mental health. It’s clearly an issue for our workforce that we need to address.”

The figures, which relate to the three-month period between July and September in both 2018 and 2019, went before the council’s personnel committee last month.

The council has 6,800 employees with almost 40% of those working in schools.

Overall there has been a 16% increase in days lost to sickness absence including a 42% increase in work-related stress absence.

In 2019, between July and September, the number of people taking time off sick due to anxiety disorders increased by more than three times from the same period the previous year.

Across Wales there has been an overall increase in sickness with the average number of working days lost across the 22 local authorities being around 10.5 days per member of staff.

Neath Port Talbot Council is currently seventh in a benchmarking table with an average of 9.8 days lost to sickness per member of staff.

In September the council signed up to the Time to Change pledge, which is a public declaration that an organisation wants to step up to tackle mental health stigma and discrimination.

As part of the pledge the council has developed an action plan to help support employees with their mental health.

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