Council absentee levels leads to new measures

Headquarters of Derry City & Strabane District Council on the Strand Road.
Headquarters of Derry City & Strabane District Council on the Strand Road.

Derry City & Strabane District Council has said that new measures are being introduced to tackle staff absenteeism.

The move was among a list of actions the council outlined as it presented its Annual Governance Statement for the 2015/16 year.

As part of the procedure ,the Council’s Chief Executive John Kelpie, Directors and Heads/Lead Officers have been asked to consider significant governance issues that require action and disclosure.

Absenteeism was highlighted as among the most significant of these issues, in a report brought before the Council’s Audit, Assurance and Risk Committee on Thursday at the Guildhall.

The report states in relation to “high levels of absenteeism” that “management are continually monitoring absenteeism and introducing additional control measures to try and reduce the figures”.

It also states that “absenteeism will be continually monitored during 2016/17.”

The actual level of absenteeism within the council has not been disclosed.

Speaking after the meeting, a spokesperson for Derry City and Strabane District Council confirmed however that there was a “marginal increase in the level of absenteeism across both Strabane District Council and Derry City Council over the past year”.

The spokesperson said that “managing attendance remains a key ongoing strategic priority for the Council and that all absences are rigorously managed with management, trade unions and occupational health working in close partnership to facilitate employees return to work and to ensure that those employees who have been absent from illness due to work are consistently managed”.

She added: “Derry City and Strabane District Council is committed as an organisation to further improving absence levels and delivering ongoing reductions.

“A full policy review is underway and the Council is currently implementing its Health and Wellbeing programme – Be Well - to promote fitness and wellbeing across all its employees.”

Another issue highlighted in the Council report centred on grant aid for the transferring of off street car parking to the amalgamated council.

It was stated that an over-estimation of the income which would be generated from car parks has been off-set due to an additional £150,000 from the Department for Regional Development.

“The second part of the risk relates to potentially significant structural repair costs to Queen’s Quay Car Park. Legal proceedings and discussions with Central Government are ongoing in relation to the resolution of this issue,” it was stated.

The Council has also undertaken system improvements to income collection systems and documenting procedures at Foyle Arena, as recommendations in an internal audit report.

“Internal Audit are working closely with management to ensure that all of the system improvements made as a result of this audit are replicated across all Council’s leisure facilities,” the Committee report states.

In relation to internal and external reviews into the Council’s tender procurement process, the Council report states that management have been working to ensure that all recommendations are implemented within the required timeframes. “At this time all of the recommendations have either been fully or partially implemented; resulting in significant improvements in Council’s procurement procedures and processes,” the report added .