Senior management support has helped City of York Council drive absence down

The City of York Council cites an absence management system and support from senior management as the reasons behind its reduction in sickness absence levels from 13.5 days per employee recorded between 2004 and 2005 to 12.5 days between 2005 and 2006.

Stephen Forrest, HR business development manager, explains: “The scheme on offer must play a role in managing sickness absence but without backing from senior management it won’t mean anything.”

Forrest is keen to use the nurse-manned absence management system provided to the council by Active Health Partners as a preventative measure.

“We don’t want to just wait for the [absence] to begin and become long term,” he explains.

The local authority is also taking part in a long-term project with nine other local councils in the north of England to gain a better understanding of why absence levels are high.

The project will focus on the causes of absence and whether certain management practices can help to reduce absence more than others.