Council workers in Dudley clock up 59,000 sick days

Thursday, 28 March 2024 17:13

By Martyn Smith, Local Democracy Reporter @

Stress and mental health are amongst the causes for which Dudley Council workers have taken 59,142 days off due to sickness last year.

The shocking statistics were discussed at a meeting of the authority’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee on March 27 which also heard 35,842 of those missed days were part of long-term sickness absences of more than 28 days at a time.

The figures reflect a national trend where the UK is experiencing the highest levels of sickness in a decade with workers taking an average of 7.8 days off each year.

In a report to the committee, Daniele Brennan, Dudley’s equality, diversity and inclusion manager, said: “The position at Dudley Council reflects the national trend with mental health/anxiety/depression identified as the top reason for sickness in the latest figures.

“The areas identified as having the highest levels of mental health related sickness being Housing, Regeneration and Enterprise, Children’s Services and Adult Social Care.”

A review of how the authority handles staff mental health issues found pockets of good practice were not joined up and information for staff was not easy to access, out of date or duplicated. The review also found employees were unaware of what help is available and reluctant to use mental health first aiders.

Dudley Council has 2,852 employees and absence rates, at 5.48 days per employee, are lower than the national average but the numbers were still a concern for committee members.

Cllr Adam Davies believes cutting the number of lost days to mental health should be considered in the current council Total Operating Model review. He said: “It’s one of the most important things seen at scrutiny, it really needs to be part of the restructure that’s going on.

“I would like to see the focus on prevention, let’s get people back into offices and give them their own space.”

Cllr Elaine Taylor was concerned spending controls as the council battles to save millions of pounds may be taking their toll. She said: “The cost cutting the council is going through and not replacing staff is one of the major causes why the present staff are feeling let down.”


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