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Departmental Sick Pay

Volume 481: debated on Tuesday 21 October 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs how many staff in (a) his Department, (b) its agencies and (c) the non-departmental bodies for which it has responsibility have received sick pay for sick leave due to (i) stress and (ii) mental health and behavioural disorders in each of the last 10 years; what the average length of time was for which sick pay was paid in these cases; and if he will make a statement. (216117)

The number of UK civil servants employed by the FCO and by Wilton Park, an Executive Agency of the FCO, where stress or mental health illness has been given as the reason for the absence is set out in the following table.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office

Wilton Park

2005-2006

Number of Staff

137

6

Percentage of Workforce

2.3

8.1

2006-07

Number of Staff

128

10

Percentage of Workforce

2.1

13.5

2007-08

Number of Staff

119

10

Percentage of Workforce

2.0

13.5

The following table provides the average period of sick leave in each year for stress and mental health disorders.

Foreign and Commonwealth Office (days)

Wilton Park (days)

2005-06

18.2

12.3

2006-07

18.6

29.6

2007-08

26.4

62.5

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) pays staff on sick leave their normal salary for up to a maximum of six months sick absence during any rolling period of 12 months. After that the FCO pays 50 per cent. of salary for up to a maximum of six months during any rolling period of four years or less. If the absence continues beyond this period, staff cease to receive any salary. It would incur a disproportionate amount of cost for us to investigate each individual instance of sickness to tell whether the officers had reached any of these thresholds.

The FCO does not hold records of staff sickness absence before 2005. Nor does it have access to the sickness absence records of non-departmental public bodies. Sickness absence figures for FCO Services, which became a Trading Fund on 1 April 2008, are included in the FCO total.

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) is committed to protecting the health, welfare and productivity of its staff. Our occupational stress policy provides guidance for staff and managers on recognising and dealing with stress and on reducing the causes of stress in the workplace. We provide further support through a team of welfare officers, referral to our Occupational Health service and access to a 24/7 confidential employee assistance programme.