Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Questions (237)

Simon Harris

Question:

240 Deputy Simon Harris asked the Minister for Health the procedures in place to manage sick leave in all agencies, offices or other bodies reporting to his Department, separate to individuals working directly for his Department; the combined number of sick days taken by staff in the agencies, offices or other bodies reporting to his Department in 2011 and to date in 2012; the financial cost of this sick leave; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32562/12]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Health)

The health sector, as with other public service employers, has sick leave schemes for staff when they are absent from work through illness.

The HSE has strengthened its policies and procedures on attendance management in light of the 3.5% target in its 2012 National Service Plan, including action plans for all sites for the management of absence over 3.5%; analysis of certified and uncertified absence on each hospital site and community care area; monitoring adherence to Attendance Management Policies such as return to work interviews, counselling, referral to Occupational Health; use of disciplinary processes where appropriate.

In addition, training and development has been provided to line managers, and HR and Occupational Health support is also available for line managers to assist in managing attendance more effectively.

The overall rate of sick leave in 2011 was 4.9% and is 5.0% to date in 2012. The rate for the month of April, the latest available data, was 4.7%.

The HSE estimates that the opportunity cost of time lost through sick leave absence is in the region of €46m per 1% of absence. In 2011, this equated to approximately €225m in respect of the reported annualised sick absence rate of 4.9%.

In the time available, the information requested in relation to agencies under the aegis of my Department is not available and will be forwarded to the Deputy as soon as possible.

The Public Service Reform Programme contains a commitment to review sick leave policies in the Civil and Public Service with a view to improving productivity and reducing absences. The Labour Relations Commission have facilitated discussions between management and the public service unions. A Labour Court hearing on the matter will be held shortly.