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Mental Health: Civil Servants

Volume 737: debated on Thursday 7 September 2023

Civil service sickness absence data are published annually. The latest data indicate that an average of 2.3 working days were lost per staff year due to mental ill health for the year ending 31 March 2022.

I understand that nearly three quarters of a million civil service working days were lost due to alleged stress and mental health reasons, and that that figure is 40% up on the year before. Of course those with genuine mental health needs need appropriate support but, given that many civil servants enjoy pay and pension packages way in excess of what many people can get in the private sector, what steps are the Government taking to ensure that only those with genuine mental health conditions are granted a leave of absence?

I know my hon. Friend will be aware that there has been, in both the private and public sectors, a large spike in all sickness absence this year, because of course the comparative data were with the pandemic period. The good news for him is that the most recent figures from the Office for National Statistics show that sickness absence for all forms is lower in the most recent period in central Government Departments than it is in the private sector. We work with people who are unwell, using occupational health and employee assistance provision to ensure that they get the support that they need. We continue to wish to drive down the numbers of people who are off for ill health and to ensure that those who are unwell get the support that they require, but we work with them.