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Government Departments: Staff Absence

Volume 711: debated on Tuesday 2 June 2009

Question

Asked by

To ask Her Majesty's Government what the rates of staff (a) absence, and (b) sickness absence, were at (1) the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, and (2) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, in each of the past three years; and what the targets for the department were in each case.[HL3282]

The average number of working days lost per person due to sickness absence for Defra and its agencies for each of the past three financial years for which figures are available is shown in the table below. Information on absence rates for Defra's non-departmental public bodies is not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

2005-06

2006-07

2007-08

Defra

8.2

7.5

6.0

Animal Health (previously SVS until 1/4/07)

9.1

Government Decontamination Service (created on 1/10/05)

4.7

Marine and Fisheries Agency

10.5

Central Science Laboratory (now FERA)

N/A

6.6

6.3

Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science

5.0

6.5

11.0

Pesticides Safety Directorate (now part of the HSE from 1/4/08)

9.8

8.6

7.8

Rural Payments Agency

7.8

6.9

8.6

Veterinary Laboratories Agency

9.4

9.5

9.9

Veterinary Medicines Directorate

11.0

10.9

8.2

Separate figures for core Defra, Animal Health, Government Decontamination Service and the Marine and Fisheries Agency for 2005-06 and 2006-07 are not available. The Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science figure for 2007-08 covers the period from 1 July 2007 to 30 June 2008.

Records of rates of absence for reasons other than sickness are not held centrally and could be provided only at disproportionate cost.

Defra and its agencies closely monitor sickness absence, including benchmarking sick absence rates against Cabinet Office figures for the Civil Service. Policies and good working practices are in place to reduce sick absence including conducting return-to-work interviews, occupational health professionals advising on the medical and Disability Discrimination Act aspects of cases, training on stress awareness for managers and staff, and support from staff welfare services.