Government Departments: Staff Absence

House of Lords written question – answered on 13th May 2009.

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Photo of Baroness Warsi Baroness Warsi Shadow Minister (Community Cohesion), Communities and Local Government

To ask Her Majesty's Government what the rates of staff (a) absence, and (b) sickness absence, were at (1) the Ministry of Defence, and (2) each of its agencies and non-departmental public bodies, in each of the past three years; and what the targets for the department were in each case.

Photo of Baroness Taylor of Bolton Baroness Taylor of Bolton Parliamentary Under-Secretary (International Defence and Security), Ministry of Defence, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Ministry of Defence) (International Defence and Security) (also in Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

It is not possible to provide information on (a) as no reliable data are available on absences other than sickness absence.

Sickness absence rates in the MoD for the 12 months ending 31 December 2006, 31 December 2007 and 31 December 2008 are shown in the table below:

Sickness Absence Rates 1, 2 by Year Ending:
Average working days lost per
FTE3:
Industrial Non Industrial Total
31 December 2008 11.3 7.9 8.5
31 December 2007 11.9 8.2 8.9
31 December 2006 12.1 8.0 8.8

1. Data exclude staff in Trading Funds, the Royal Fleet Auxiliary, and Locally Engaged Civilians for whom sickness absence data are not readily available.

2. Data presented reflect the current Cabinet Office definition, setting a maximum absence of 225 days per person, and exclude data for weekends, annual leave and bank holidays.

3. Average working days lost per FTE are calculated by dividing the total working days lost for each period by a weighted average of the 1st of the month strengths for the period, with the strengths at the 1st January at the start and end of the period receiving a weighting of 0.5, and the strengths at the 1st of the other months in the period a weighting of 1.

4. Sickness absence figures for the 12 months to 31 December 08 exclude absences where a person is classed as being on zero pay.

Sickness Absence Rates 1,2 by Year Ending—Trading Funds:
Average working days lost per
FTE3:
Industrial Non Industrial Total
31 December 2008 .. .. 6.1

1 Trading Fund personnel cannot be split by Industrial Non Industrial status.

2 Data presented reflect the current Cabinet Office definition, setting a maximum absence of 225 days per person, and exclude data for weekends, annual leave and bank holidays.

3 Rates are calculated by dividing the total working days lost for each period by a weighted 13 month average for the period listed with the first and last month receiving a weighting of 0.5, and all other months a weighting of 1.

4 Sickness absence figures for the 12 months to 31 December 08 exclude absences where a person is classed as being on zero pay.

Information prior to the 12 months ending 31 December 2008 is not considered robust enough to provide any meaningful sick absence rates due to data inconsistency within the HR systems used by trading funds to record absences.

Target rates of worker sickness absence for civil servants in the Ministry of Defence

Since the Cabinet Office publication of Working Well Together in the Public Sector in June 1998 the Ministry of Defence has had sickness absence targets included in the departmental plan with performance contained in the appropriate departmental report and accounts.

Targets have been to reduce sickness absence cumulatively by 2.5 per cent each year, although the continual change in methodology means that the actual figures cannot be compared year on year. The target set for financial year 2008-09 is to reduce sickness absence to 8.0 average working days lost (AWDL) per full time equivalent (FTE) employee.

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