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Departmental Absenteeism

Volume 491: debated on Wednesday 22 April 2009

To ask the Minister of State, Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform 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. (260468)

It is not possible to provide exact numbers as annual leave and arrangements for absence are agreed locally between line managers and their staff. Asking each individual line manager in the Department for details would incur disproportionate cost.

An estimate of the costs and working hours lost has not been completed and it would incur disproportionate cost to do so. However, the Department has assessed the proportion of staff able to work on the 2 and 3 February 2009. All departmental buildings were open on those dates. It is estimated that approximately 25 per cent. of staff attended the office. In addition, approximately 65 per cent. of staff have remote access to the Department’s IT system and all London-based staff have remote telephony access and can access the office telephone system from home or elsewhere. It is estimated that approximately 10 per cent. of staff cannot work from home and were unable to work in any way on the days in question.

Staff were issued with advice on travel information and reminded of departmental guidance on adverse weather and travel disruption. Where possible, staff made alternative arrangements with their line managers including

Working flexibly or from home

Different work patterns to ease disruption of public transport e.g. start work later

Using annual leave

Where line managers considered it was unreasonable to require staff to attend the office and it was impossible to work from home, managers had discretion to authorise staff to stay at home without loss of pay.