Magazine article Public Finance

PSF to Tackle Diversity and Sick Leave

Magazine article Public Finance

PSF to Tackle Diversity and Sick Leave

Article excerpt

The joint government/trade union body the Public Services Forum has swung into action to set up two panels to assess problematic sickness absence and diversity issues.

Cabinet Office sources said the two working groups were endorsed at a PSF meeting, overseen by forum chair and Cabinet Office minister John Hutton, last month.

Both sides have agreed to produce ideas on tackling and managing rising sickness absence levels amid government concern that absence rates in some parts of the public sector are twice as high as in the private sector. They will report back to the next PSF meeting in October.

The forum was set up after the Warwick agreement in 2003 between the Labour Party and the unions to improve communication and avoid the damaging disputes that marked the early years of the Labour government.

Many ministries, including the Department for Work and Pensions, have poor sickness absence records. In 2003, DWP staff took an average of 12.9 days off work, compared with 6.7 days in the private sphere.

Public Finance understands that the Cabinet Office wants to use incentive systems similar to those being trialled at the Post Office to improve attendance, including prizes or bonuses for staff with exemplary records. …

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