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Prison Service: Sick Leave

Volume 485: debated on Tuesday 16 December 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many working days were lost due to staff sickness in the Prison Service in the last five years for which figures are available; and what estimate he has made of the consequential cost to the Prison Service in each of those years. (242066)

The following table contains information on the total number of working days lost to the public sector Prison Service through sickness absence in each year since 2003-04. The table also shows the average number of working days lost per employee of the public sector Prison Service during the same period. An estimate has been made of the overall cost of absence (at 2007 prices) for the public sector.

Sickness absence accounted for 5.3 per cent. of all available working days in the public sector Prison Service in 2007-08. 41 per cent. of Prison Service staff had no sickness absence in the 12 months to June 2008. Sickness absence rates have fallen by 12 per cent. since 2003-04 and by 20 per cent. since 2002. The reduction in absence rates since 2003-04 has saved an estimated £10.8 million.

Information has not been provided for the privately contracted prisons. As private companies, the contractors bear the costs of their staff sickness. The costs do not fall on public funds.

Total working days lost and cost of sickness absence in the public sector Prison Service, 2003-04 to 2007-08

Working days lost

Average working days lost

Estimated cost1 (£ million)

2003-04

628,623

13.31

83.4

2004-05

616,367

12.68

81.7

2005-06

589,211

12.17

78.1

2006-07

573,071

11.64

76.0

2007-08

590.936

11.70

78.4

1 The cost of a day is estimated as £132.62. This does not include other costs associated with sickness absence.