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Department for Work and Pensions: Sick Leave

Department for Work and Pensions written question – answered on 22nd May 2019.

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Photo of Tom Brake Tom Brake Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (International Trade), Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Exiting the European Union)

To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, how many and what proportion of officials in her Department took sick leave for reasons relating to stress in the last 12 months; what proportion that leave was of total sick leave taken in her Department; and what the cost was to her Department of officials taking sick leave over that period.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Work and Pensions

The Department recognises its legal duty to protect the health, safety and welfare of our employees; this includes identifying and reducing workplace stressors. Our approach is a holistic one that utilises the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) Management Standards for work related stress and follows key principles to help identify and reduce work place stressors.

2,473 employees took sick leave for reasons relating to stress in the last 12 months which represents 3% of our paid staff. As a percentage, such absences equated to 10.7% of all Working Days Lost due to sickness absence. However, as the Department continues to pay salaries during sickness absence there is no direct financial cost.

Our approach to absence is fair but robust with the emphasis on health promotion and absence prevention. The Department has a range of support from mental health toolkits, stress reduction plans plus tailored support for people who do go off sick or need support through our Employee Assistance Programme which includes counselling.

The Department has 965 Mental Health First Aiders, who provide acute, short-term and structured support to individuals, provide reassurance and signpost colleagues to both DWP and external sources of support as appropriate. Mental Health First Aiders are also provided with continuous professional development and support for their own mental wellbeing.

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