True cost of council absenteeism is £500000

THE true cost of absenteeism in Larne Borough Council was almost half a million pounds in the past year, the Larne Times can reveal.

The local government auditor, whose latest report again showed the local authority has the highest level of staff sickness in the Province, estimates the average of nearly 20 days off per employee equals £391,000 in lost production.

The council claimed this week that in the past year its absenteeism rate reduced by 29 per cent to 17.3 days on average, but in his annual report, published on Friday, chief local government auditor John Buchanan revealed that in the three-year period 2005-08 the average was 19.54 days – the highest of all 26 district councils and more than double the lowest rate.

He noted a “slight” improvement on the previous three years when the figure stood at 19.93 days.

“Absenteeism cost the council an average of £391,000 in lost productivity each year during the 2005-08 period,” said the report. “This cost could have been reduced by £227,000 each year if the

council had matched the lowest average annual absenteeism rate for the period.”

The productivity gain between the two reporting periods was £8,000 a year.

Mr Buchanan pointed out that 32 per cent of absenteeism in the council was “the result of stress, depression, mental health and fatigue” when the average for Northern Ireland councils was 24 per cent.

In a statement, Larne council said it accepted the report, but referred to the annual audit for 2007-08 which indicated the average days lost per employee dropped from 24.27 to 17.3

The statement added, “The auditor has said that although he recommends absenteeism performance for councils should be benchmarked against others, the most important comparisons are to be made ‘with performance in the same organisation over time’. Larne Borough Council demonstrated that it was at the top of the scale for reductions in absenteeism rates by 29 per cent.

“Larne Borough Council welcomed the report findings that it was one of the top-performing councils when it came to staff who had no absence during the year, with 42 per cent of staff never having had a day off sick.

(Source: )

Richard Reid is the founder of Pinnacle Proactive, Specialising in theEmployee Assistance ProgramStress ManagementStaff Retention & Absenteeism. Take a Proactive Approach to Growing Your Organisation & its People. For more info visit


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