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Youth Justice Board and Legal Services Commission: Sick Leave

Volume 505: debated on Friday 5 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice what estimate he has made of the number of working days lost per employee at (a) the Legal Services Commission and (b) the Youth Justice Board in the latest period for which figures are available; and what steps he is taking to reduce levels of staff absence at each body. (312509)

The average number of days taken as sickness absence at the Legal Services Commission during 2008-09 was 7.98 per employee. This has decreased from 9.17 in 2007-08 and 10.7 in 2006-07.

The LSC has been reviewing its absence policy year-on-year in order to reduce absence levels. The target for 2009-10 is 7.66 days (a 4 per cent. reduction on 2008-09). Following the most recent review in 2009, online training has been further developed to support managers and absence trigger points (where the return to work meeting between the manager and employee become a more formal process) have been lowered to seven days. An absence panel has been set up to review any long-term sickness absence and ensure support systems such as occupational health referrals, home visits and the employee assistance programme are in place.

No days are recorded as having been lost as a result of staff being unable to make it to work due to adverse weather conditions or travel disruption as it is the LSC’s policy to give line managers the flexibility to authorise home working where appropriate or convert any absences in these circumstances into annual, flexible or special leave.

In 2008-09, the average number of days taken as sickness absence at the Youth Justice Board was 3.7 days per employee. It has a robust attendance management policy in place outlining clearly line managers’ responsibilities to support staff, manage absence and the actions they need to take at different trigger points. This includes interventions at cumulative absence and consecutive absence points, the requirement to conduct documented “return to work” interviews, line manager and/or occupational health and welfare services contact and formalised case conferences.

The YJB’s HR team works closely with line managers across the business to monitor instances of sickness absences and provide advice, support and interventions, where necessary, to reduce the level of sickness absence even further. Sickness absence figures are also included in the YJB’s “Organisational Health Indicators”.

In addition the YJB runs a health and well-being programme to encourage staff to be aware of the health and fitness and take steps to improve their well-being. This includes access to eye tests, cycle to work schemes, discounted gym memberships, advice on tackling stress and access to health screening.

No days are recorded as having been lost as a result of staff being unable to make it to work due to adverse weather conditions or travel disruption as it is the YJB’s policy to give line managers the flexibility to authorise home working where appropriate or convert any absences in these circumstances into annual, flexible or special leave.