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Departmental Sick leave

Volume 505: debated on Wednesday 10 February 2010

To ask the Secretary of State for Justice how many staff in his Department have had five or more periods of sickness absence of less than five days since its inception. (316467)

Sick absence data for the MOJ (excluding the National Offender Management Service—NOMS) cannot be broken down to the level of detail requested and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

4,461 directly employed civil servants in the National Offender Management Service have taken at least five periods of sickness absence, of less than five days duration between the inception of Ministry of Justice on 9 May 2007 and 31 December 2009. This represents 7.2 per cent. of all staff employed over this period. An absence of less than five days is defined as an absence where the return to work date is less than five calendar days after the first day of absence. No account is taken of rest days.

The general trend in sick absence levels in the MOJ is downwards. In the 12 month period to March 2009 the average working days lost per person was 9.8 (10.7 days per person in NOMS and 8.0 days per person in the wider MOJ). This reduced to 9.5 days per person in the 12 months to September 2009 (10.5 days per person in NOMS and 7.5 days per person in the wider MOJ).

In the 12 months to September 2009 57 per cent. of absence was due to long-term sickness, where absence is greater than 20 working days.

The MOJ takes the management of sickness absences extremely seriously and is committed to an attendance management system that will help reduce the number of sickness absences while supporting the well-being of its employees.

The MOJ continues to focus management attention on reducing sick absence. Working proactively with external occupational health providers, there have been significant improvements in referral turnaround times. New, more streamlined and simplified attendance policies have been introduced during 2009.

Further work is also focused on well-being and to support this work we have undertaken a fundamental review of the occupational health (OH) delivery model. The re-tender of the contract for external OH services has been progressed on the basis of this new delivery model, which at its core has a focus on proactive case management and an on-site occupational health adviser at every NOMS HQ and prison service location.