To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs how many staff in her Department were on long term sick leave in each of the last five years. 
There is no central definition of what constitutes long-term sickness absence, but this Department, as part of its ongoing commitment to the effective management of sickness absence routinely records and monitors all sickness absence and automatically refers cases to its Occupational Health Adviser when an absence has reached 90 days.
Defra was created in 2001 and the following figures reflect such referrals and cover staff in the core Department and Veterinary Medicines Directorate and Pesticides Safety Directorate Agencies, for absences beginning in the years listed:
Responsibility for attendance matters within the Central Science Laboratory Agency, the Veterinary Laboratories Agency, the Rural Payments Agency and the Centre for Environmental Fisheries and Aquaculture Science Agency has been delegated to Chief Executives and they have been asked to reply direct on this issue.
Letter from Johnston McNeill to Mr. John Bercow, dated 15 April 2003:
I have been asked to respond directly to your recent Parliamentary Question concerning sick leave absence.
Question: To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, how many staff in her Department were on long term sick leave in each of the last five years.
Information on the number of staff who were on long term sick leave in each of the last five years is not available for the Rural Payments Agency. RPA is a relatively new organisation formed in October 2001. RPA is still developing a computerised Personnel System to provide sickness absence data of the kind requested. Specific information on numbers of staff on long term sick leave could only be obtained at disproportionate administrative cost and time, but the Agency refers cases to the Medical Adviser as appropriate.
RPA is committed to managing sickness absence effectively and to meeting targets for reducing sickness absence as set out in the Agency's Business Plan for 2003–04.
RPA has developed a sickness absence management policy and procedures, that includes a revised strategy for managing long term sickness absence, for implementation from May 2003.
Letter from Peter Greig-Smith to Mr. J. Bercow, dated April 2003:
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked me to reply to your question regarding how many staff were on long term sick leave in each of the last five years. I am replying on behalf of the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (CEFAS).
For CEFAS staff, a review point of 60 days (i.e. 2 months or more) is used to define long term absence. During the past five years, the numbers of staff on long term absence were as follows:
CEFAS has successfully introduced a scheme for 'Return to Workplace' interviews and is fully committed to managing attendance effectively. We are on target for achieving the reduced levels of sickness absence we have set out for the Agency.
Letter from Professor Mike Roberts to Mr. John Bercow, dated 15 April 2003:
The Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has asked me to reply, with respect to the Central Science Laboratory, to your question concerning how many staff were on long-term sick leave in each of the last five years.
CSL has no formal definition of what constitutes "long-term" sick leave but does automatically refer to Occupational Health all staff who are absent for more than 90 days. Our records show that the numbers of staff on long-term sick leave (i.e. exceeding the 90-day absence referral point) were as follows:
CSL has been successful in managing sickness absence through innovations such as recruiting a dedicated Occupational Health professional, running regular health awareness campaigns and carrying out all-staff health surveys. The organisation remains committed to the continued effective management of sickness absence.
Letter from Steven Edwards to Mr. John Bercow, dated April 2003:
The Secretary of State has asked me to reply to your question on how many staff in her Department were on long-term sick leave in each of the last five years.
There is no central definition of what constitutes long-term sick absence. VLA has adopted a pro-active stance to monitoring attendance with earlier and speedier referrals to the Occupational Physician.
The following figures cover staff within VLA for absences beginning in the years listed:
VLA is committed to the effective management of sickness absence and to meeting sickness absence reduction targets.