Council say long term sick are skewing figures

Highest rate of absenteeism recorded

Council say long term sick are skewing figures
Leonie McKiernan @leitrimtoday

Leitrim County Council have sought to clarify that a small number of long term sickness absences are skewing sick leave figures for the local authority.

Last week it emerged that Leitrim County Council had the highest sickness absenteeism rates for local authorities in 2015 with the average figure per employee coming in at 12 days.

The figures showed that every local authority in the country reported a higher level of sick leave than that seen, on average, for those working in the private sector.

The figures were broken down between medically certified and self-certified sickness with the percentage of paid working days lost to medically certified sickness in Leitrim County Council coming in at 5.20 percent while the percentage of days lost through self-certified sickness was 0.35 percent.

When contacted for comment on the figures, Leitrim County Council issued a statement noting: “Sick leave (in Leitrim County Council) is dealt with in line with the provisions of the national sick leave scheme with sick leave absences closely monitored on an ongoing basis and referrals as appropriate for independent medical assessment.

“Sick leave statistics are reflected as a percentage of the full time equivalent staff numbers. For an organisation like Leitrim County Council with the lowest full time equivalent staff number, a small number of long term sickness absences, in the context of critical illness, is disproportionately impacting on the overall percentage.”

The statement went on to say that when the small number of long term sickness absences in the local authority were excluded from the figures, the actual percentage rate for absences reduced to 1.92 percent, significantly down on the 5.55 percent rate otherwise reported for the Council.

The overall figures were released by Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney, to Fianna Fáil TD, Barry Cowen.