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Departmental Absenteeism

Volume 489: debated on Tuesday 17 March 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport how many staff of his Department were recorded absent for non-medical reasons on (a) 2 February 2009 and (b) 3 February 2009; what estimate he has made of the (i) cost to his Department and (ii) number of working hours lost due to such absence; and what guidance his Department issued to staff in respect of absence on these days. (260475)

The offices of the Department for Culture, Media and Sport were closed at 3 pm on 2 February owing to a lack of security staff caused by travel restrictions caused by the extreme weather. On 3 February 2009, we estimate that around 40 per cent. of staff attended the office. We do not hold central records of absence or the hours worked by staff on the relevant days and are not able to make an estimate of (i) the cost to the Department nor (ii) the number of working hours lost.

On the days in question, staff were able to access information about whether the offices were closed on the internet and recovery phone line.

Further guidance was issued on 5 February, reminding staff that when DCMS buildings are open staff are expected to take all reasonable steps to get into work without endangering themselves; that if they cannot get to the office they must notify their line manager that morning; and that if they do not notify their line manager they will be expected to take any days out of the office as annual or unpaid leave.