asked the Minister of Supply what has been the cost to the Exchequer of the sick pay scheme in Royal Ordnance Factories since it was introduced in September, 1948; what was the rate of sickness in the 12 months before and after introduction of the scheme, respectively; and what action he has taken to prevent abuse.
asked the Minister of Supply if he will make a statement on the working of the National Health Service in the Royal Ordnance Factories where claims for sickness benefit increased by 20 per cent. since the insurance scheme began in July, 1948; and when he will publish the results of the official inquiry into the increase of absenteeism and benefit claims.
The amount of absence through sickness has increased substantially in most of the Royal Ordnance factories and there has been, no doubt, a certain amount of abuse, but disciplinary action has been taken wherever abuse has been found.
I do not understand what the hon. Member means. It is part of the duties of the Parliamentary Secretary to visit the Royal Ordnance Factories and to see that the work there is carried out efficiently. I should have thought that the fact that he did it during the summer months was no reason to abuse him.
Will not my right hon. Friend agree that the best way to stop abuse would be to see that in every case a doctor's certificate has to be obtained by the worker concerned before he can go home sick?
The paid sick leave arrangements operating in the Royal Ordnance Factories for industrial employees are those laid down in the scheme which applies to all Government industrial employees, and which was agreed between the Treasury, the Departments concerned and the trade unions represented on the Joint Co-ordinating, Committee for Government Industrial Establishments.
The scheme, which is due for review in September, 1950, provides that after a qualifying period of six months employees may in any period of one year be granted sick leave with full pay, up to a maximum of 13 weeks, less the amount of any National Insurance benefit. Full pay means the employee's ordinary time rate, and the first three days are not paid for unless absence extends to five days. After five years' service a further period of 13 weeks sick leave on half-pay is given. Grant of paid sick leave is conditional upon the production of medical certificates of unfitness obtained from a medical practitioner who is normally the National Health Service doctor.
The cost of the scheme in the Royal Ordnance Factories for the 12 months from its introduction in September, 1948, was £296,959. The following table shows the percentage of working days lost by industrial employees in the Factories on account of absence covered by medical certificate in the 12 months preceding and following its introduction: