Stressed council staff take record number of days off work

08:34 04 April 2014

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Stress-related illness forced staff at East Cambridgeshire District Council to take 265 days off work last year and cost the authority hundreds of pounds in counselling fees, new figures have revealed.

The figure represents an increase of more than 110 per cent on the previous year, when just 126 days were lost to illness caused by stress, anxiety or depression and an increase of 130 per cent on 2009, when 115 days were lost.

Last year, the council paid out £500 towards the cost of counselling for stressed staff and, since 2009, the council has paid out £2,465 to support those affected.

Overall cases of staff absence through illness are also on the increase at the council, with a whopping 1,033 days off work taken in 2013, compared to 856 days last year and just 700 in 2009.

In 2013, the council had 196 staff on its books but that number is set to fall over the coming weeks and months as the council completes a radical restructure, which saw more than 20 posts under threat of redundancy.

The ruling Conservative group announced in January that some 23 posts were at risk as the council moved to a more “pro business, self-financing” organisation but the staff consultation process was criticised by the public services union UNISON and saw the resignation of two veteran councillors, Phil Read and Peter Moakes.

Andrew Killington, deputy chief executive of the district council, said: “The council takes the management of stress very seriously. Stress and related conditions are complex issues often caused by a number of factors which can, of course, be non-work related.

“The council has in place effective stress management policies to help employees avoid excess stress where possible and to deal sympathetically and effectively with stress related conditions from whatever source when they do occur.”

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