Craigavon in top five of ‘sick day’ councils

ABSENTEEISM is costing Craigavon Borough Council almost £1m a year in lost productivity, a major report has revealed.

The council is reviewing its absenteeism policy after finishing among the worst five local authorities in Northern Ireland for days off work, contributing to a massive loss of £16m across the 26 councils, with 131,000 days lost in the 2007-08 financial year

Figures released by the Chief Local Government Auditor show that Craigavon council staff were off an average of 16.7 days per annum over a period covering the years 2005-08, at an average productivity cost of £955,000 per annum.

Only Larne, (19.54 days), Carrickfergus (18.99), Derry (17.89) and Moyle (16.85) performed worse than Craigavon.

The shining example was Magherafelt District Council, which – with 8.19 days per staff member – was the best of the 26 in Northern Ireland, while Craigavon’s nearest neighbours – Armagh, Lisburn, Banbridge and Dungannon – were much better than Craigavon.


Armagh, which covers Richhill, Tandragee and Markethill, was second in the list behind Magherafelt with 8.81 sick days per staff member.

Lisburn was third with 8.81 days, Banbridge was seventh with 11.73, although Dungannon was 16th with 13.25 lost days per staff member.
Armagh’s lost productivity was £230,000, Lisburn’s £513,000; Banbridge’s £247,000; and Dungannon’s £403,000.

However, statistics also show that Craigavon had one of the highest proportion of staff with no days of absence, suggesting that a number of staff were on long-term sickness.

The borough was third best in that table, with 48 per cent of staff not having a single day off during 2007-08, and only Castlereagh (50 per cent) and Lisburn (55 per cent) could better than figure. At the bottom end of the scale, Ards had just 22 per cent.

Just under 30 per cent of Craigavon’s days off were through stress, depression, mental and fatigue, well above the province’s average of 24 per cent.

A spokeswoman for the Civic Centre said that the figures had shown a slight improvement in recent years and that an absence policy had been in place for the past three or four years.

These included a doctor’s certificate, back-to-work interview in the case of regularly absenteeism, and based on the number of days away from work.

“We are regularly reviewing these policies and we are confident the figures will come down further,” the spokeswoman added.


However, Craigavon Councillor Philip Weir slammed the statistics. He said, “The statistics for sick leave in Craigavon Council are unacceptable. They will not be tolerated by elected members.

“Absenteeism has cost Craigavon Council £955,000 per year over each of the last three years. This level of absence would not be countenanced in the private sector and that is the culture we have to ingrain within local government.”

(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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