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Northern Ireland Office: Staff Sickness

Volume 699: debated on Monday 3 March 2008

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Further to the Written Answer by Lord Rooker on 19 February (WA 44) concerning levels of illness in the Northern Ireland Office, what steps they are taking to reduce the number of days lost in that office to the United Kingdom average. [HL2079]

The Northern Ireland Office has a series of policies and procedures in place to endeavour to reduce the number of working days lost through illness. These include:

daily monitoring of sick absence;

timely intervention;

referring staff to the occupational health service (Northern Ireland civil servants) and Captia (Home civil servants) for an independent assessment of the individual to assess their fitness for work;

the welfare service meet staff absent on sick absence to focus on how best an earlier return to work might be facilitated;

the welfare service is available to meet with staff who are in work to help deal with issues which might otherwise cause them to be absent from work;

staff returning from long-term sick absence can return sooner by way of a phased return;

staff are encouraged to attend organised health awareness events;

the occupational health service fitech programme is offered to NIO staff annually to encourage staff to improve their physical and emotional health;

variable working patterns are available to staff to enable a work-life balance to be achieved;

regular updating of attendance management policy;

mandatory return to work interviews ensuring staff are aware of the trigger points and that the consequences of breaching these trigger points are potentially very serious; and

the personnel services division considers each case on merit and inefficiency due to absenteeism can ultimately lead to dismissal.