Agenda item

Referral from Audit and Risk Management Committee - Absence Management

This report on Absence Management and the Council’s approach to dealing with Stress was requested by the Audit and Risk Management Committee at its meeting on 21 November, 2017 to be referred to this Committee, together with the Attendance Management Action Plan. Minute 41 of the Audit and Risk Management Committee is also attached.


The Committee considered a report of the Chief Executive on Absence Management. The report had been requested by the Audit and Risk Management Committee at its meeting on 21 November, 2017 (minute 41 refers) when it had resolved, that:


·  the Attendance Management Action Plan be noted and referred to the Employment and Appointments Committee for further consideration; and


·  the Head of Paid Service be requested to attend the next meeting of the Employment and Appointments Committee to provide a further update on matters regarding council’s approach to stress and absence management for its staff.


The report contained a detailed study into levels of absence in the Council and how absence was being managed and monitored. There was a particular focus on stress and mental health related absence.


In response to comments from Members, Tony Williams, Senior HR Manager, made the following comments:


·  Referrals to Occupational Health were made on day 1 for staff reporting mental health related absence and they were triaged within five working days and able to access a whole range of advice and support, including up to 6 sessions of counselling. This was quicker than a GP referral.

·  If staff were reticent about reporting a mental health absence there was a confidential route through the Employee Assistance Programme for anonymised reporting.

·  Training for Line Managers was being undertaken by MIND since September to enable managers to recognise signs and symptoms of mental health problems.

·  He was aware of the organisation, Mental Health First Aid and would be happy to explore what they could offer and informed the meeting that with regard to mindfulness there was an event being planned.

·  A number of events had already been held with regard to health and wellbeing, including wellbeing pledges, offers on Invigor8 membership.

·  He acknowledged that it might be some time before the impact of these initiatives showed up in the figures of absence for mental health.

·  He gave examples of a variety of measures for proactive support, including blood pressure checks and wellbeing roadshows.

·  Although a full staff survey had not been held since 2016, there had been a number of mini-surveys and another organisation wide survey was being planned.

·  Wirral MIND was training managers to recognise their own stress levels and covered this in their sessions.

·  Managers were being encouraged to act as role models in managing their work / life balance and a staff area was being created on the ground floor of the Town Hall, Wallasey for staff to have somewhere away from their desks to have a lunch break.

·  Support was in place to try and avoid staff going off sick with stress and if they did go off support was in place quickly.

·  A good range of services was available through occupational health.

·  Training was ongoing with managers to monitor compliance with the absence policy and there had been approximately 50 of these sessions undertaken so far.


The Committee thanked Tony Williams for his detailed report and comprehensive responses to their questions.


On a motion by Councillor Phil Davies, seconded by Councillor George Davies, it was –


Resolved -


(1)  That the detailed data and analysis of the Council’s absence levels including stress and mental health related absence and how this is being managed be noted.


(2)  That a further update be provided to this Committee at a future meeting.

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