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Departmental Sick Leave

Volume 497: debated on Tuesday 13 October 2009

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs what estimate he has made of the cost to his Department of sickness absence in each of the last five years. (290523)

An estimate of the cost of sickness absence in DEFRA and its agencies in each of the last two financial years is shown in the following table. Comparable costs for earlier years are unavailable.

£ million

2007-08

9.7

2008-09

9.6

There is no agreed method of calculating the cost of sickness absences in the civil service. DEFRA has calculated the annual cost by multiplying the number of working days lost due to sickness in each grade by the average salary for that grade. No account has been taken of staff on long-term sick who are on reduced or no pay, which would reduce the totals.

DEFRA manages sickness absences in line with its sickness absence policy. This includes facilitating timely employee access to occupational health advice, medical or well-being interventions. Long-term sick employees are encouraged to return to work on a programme of recuperative duties where appropriate. All individuals returning to work from sickness absence will have a ‘welcome back’ discussion with their manager.