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Increase in number of North Lanarkshire teacher sick days

Written by Scott Campbell.
 
 
 
 
 
Published at 18:12 GMT on Monday, May 20th, 2013.

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ANXIETY, depression and stress are amongst the health reasons used to explain why the number of North Lanarkshire teachers on sickness leave has increased between 2011-2012 and 2012-2013.

A Wishaw Press story shows that during the latest financial period, a total of 28,651 full-time equivalent (FTE) days were lost due to sickness absence – a 2251 FTE days (8.5 per cent) increase on last year. 

A spokeswoman for learning and leisure services told the Wishaw Press: “Rigorous monitoring of teacher absence levels indicated an increase during the earlier part of 2012/13. A significant effort was made to address absence and the final three months indicated a steady improvement.”

The Press’s figures show that the North Lanarkshire Council FTE target of 7.39 days per employee was exceeded by almost a full day, with the actual figure totalling 8.23 days for each North Lanarkshire teacher.

The new figures have added weight after a recent leisure and learning services report revealed that long-term sickness absences – a minimum of 20 working days, equivalent to a calendar month – are much more prevalent than short-term sickness absences. The report added that there were 18294 FTE days lost long-term compared to 10357 for shorter absences; with short term sickness absences witnessing a year-on-year increase of more than 1100 FTE days.


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According to the Press’s statistics, the worst month for teacher sickness last May, during the exam digest – meaning that more than 3700 FTE days lost. Furthermore, November through March also spiked at more than 2500 FTE days, with the first three months of this year showing a marked decrease on the same period in 2012.

Amongst the reasons behind the long-term absences include anxiety, depression and stress, as well as cancer and bone/muscle/joint issues. Meanwhile, colds, flu and infections were among the most common ailments for short-term sickness.

According to the Wishaw Press, January and March this year seen 664 absence review meetings carried out, with four employees retiring through ill-health and two dismissed on capability grounds.

“Learning and leisure services are working with teacher trade unions and are closely monitoring absence. In addition, there has been a marked increase in the number of occupational health referrals to support teachers and prevent health issues escalating to the point of absence,” the spokeswoman added.

“We also hold formal absence reviews, training sessions for managers and issue health advice and guidance.”


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