Figures related to the cost of absenteeism are not available in my Department. The Local Government Sector has used Service Indicators to monitor sick leave for a number of years. Based on figures reported by local authorities, the total number of days lost in the sector to absenteeism rose slightly from 346,750 in 2010 to 350,224 in 2011. A significant quantum of the sick leave reported also includes unpaid sick leave where individuals are on long-term sick leave.
The nature of work carried out by front-line local authority staff also has an impact on absenteeism levels. Front-line services include fire and ambulance services, roads, environment, water and drainage services, parks and recreation and leisure services, housing services including homeless and welfare services. By their nature, these services can lead to occupational injury. The front-line nature of local authority service delivery differentiates it from office based activities of certain other areas of the public service. There is no specific Occupational Injury Scheme in place in the sector compared to other sectors (e.g. Gardaí, Health, Prison Service) and any occupational injuries arising are reckoned and reported as general sick leave.
Local authority managers are taking a proactive role in attendance management. Despite very challenging pressures in recent years, where the sector has reduced staffing levels by 8,900 WTE (24%), there has been an increased emphasis on improved reporting and better systems. An Attendance Management Policy and Procedure was issued to the sector in 2006 and revised and updated in 2011, including a resource pack for managers aimed at assisting local authorities in maintaining and / or improving attendance levels and ensuring consistency of practice throughout the sector.