Agenda item

Levels of Disciplinary, Grievance, Dignity at Work and Sickness Absence

Report of the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services


The Committee considered the report of the Executive Director of Corporate Resources and Customer Services that provided information on the levels of discipline, grievance, dignity at work and sickness absence within the Council (excluding schools).


The report indicated that the management of the workforce was an important activity to ensure outcomes for Sefton’s communities were achieved and to ensure that the workforce was appropriately managed and motivated. Specific information was provided on:


·       Disciplinary, Grievance and Dignity at Work - the organisation enjoyed a comparatively good level of cases and this reflected on the whole, both the good overall industrial relations environment, the partnership approach that was undertaken and also the work undertaken within departments

·       Council Sickness Absence - Year End 2021/22 plus first quarter of 2022/23 - relating to both short-term and long-term absences; and analysis by service area

·       Health Unit Data – advising that a new report would be prepared via the new iTrent system to provide information on percentage of sickness reasons across the Council; and that past reports had always shown the top 3 reasons to interchange between mental health, musculoskeletal and medical illness /infection 

·       Occupational Health referrals – advising that as in previous years, mental health related issues continued to be the main reason for referral and that Operational In-House Services, Communities and Adult Social Care were the areas with the highest number of referrals overall

·       The Strategic Leadership Board continuing to monitor and encourage the reduction of levels of both short and long-term absence; and that the Personnel Team worked closely with departments providing information and advice and appropriate levels of support, advising managers on informal processes and assisting managers with the more formal and complex levels of sickness absence management 

·       The Council’s Sickness Absence Policy which operated in a partnership with trade unions


Members of the Committee asked questions/commented on the following issues:


·       Concern expressed that staff working from home may continue working when they were ill. It was stressed that the same rules applied to staff working from home or office based regarding sickness absence, namely, that they should report any absence to their line manager in the normal way

·       Did the Council follow the ACAS mental health guide, have mental health awareness training and have mental health champions. It was noted that the Council did not have mental health champions but that the consideration could be given to the first two issues. Information was provided on work undertaken with trades unions, staff being urged to have continuous conversations with their managers, the availability of referrals to occupational health and the provision of the appropriate kit to enable staff to work safely from home

·       A comment was made that on occasions that a manager could be the cause of mental health problems for staff

·       Regarding sickness level statistics by service area a comment was made that in areas with small numbers of staff a few people off ill in such areas could skew the percentage figure in comparison to larger service areas; and a request was made for actual numbers of staff being absent to be provided, together with percentage figures, in future reports. It was noted that the actual numbers of staff being absent would be provided, together with percentage figures, in future reports

·       A question was asked whether the sickness absence policy was working to tackle short-term absences. The view of officers was that the policy was working and being managed well in respect of short-term absences but that the real challenge was long-term absence; and it was considered that the policy was fit for purpose but acknowledged that it had to be continually worked on and reviewed

·       Reference was made to the perceived high level of disciplinaries in In-House Operational Services. It was noted that this service area employed a high number of staff but that only 3 of the investigated case resulted in a sanction

·       In respect of the reasons for referral to Occupational Health referred to in paragraph 8.1 of the report was it know whether staff had pre-existing conditions relating to their referrals    




(1)      the report providing information in terms of discipline, grievance, dignity at work and sickness levels be noted; and


(2)      the ongoing work and initiatives to monitor and encourage the reduction of levels of both short and long-term absence be noted.


Supporting documents: