Flu jabs for Plymouth City Council staff to cut £6m sickness bill
FLU JABS are going to be offered to staff at Plymouth City Council as one of the methods being used to drive down a sickness bill of more than £6million.
Figures show the council lost an average Full Time Equivalent of nine days a year to staff on sick leave.
In a bid to reduce the figures to six days – which would take the number below the average of 8.5 days – the council has brought in a number of measures including the option for a flu jab.
It is part of an occupational health service brought in to tackle the problem.
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Within the service staff are offered a 24/7 counselling service, telephone triage, work-based assessments and health surveillance.
Councillor Peter Smith, deputy leader, who is also responsible for human resources, democracy and governance, said: "The number of days are reducing, we are managing the situation now and where we found people have underlying problems we are managing that with occupational health and treat them with the dignity they deserve.
"What we need to do is cut down the short term absence, particularly with our frontline workers who deal with the public regularly. We are offering staff the flu jab this will hopefully cut down on the number of days this way. We realise people will still get colds and sniffles but it will hopefully prevent staff from getting full blown flu.
"We have got to keep driving it down, we cannot tolerate high sickness levels when the tax payer is footing the bill so it needs to be as low as possible.
"The message now is we will be fair but firm."
Flu jabs for staff are expected to roll in through a programme this Autumn.
Figures released last year show that the council-wide average days lost per FTE due to sickness for non school staff had fallen from 12.88 days in November 2010 to 10.12 days in October 2011. However, the level for all staff remains above the average of 8.5 days standing at 9 days when compared with other local authorities.
But now the council are aiming to bring the number down to six days.
A Plymouth City Council spokesperson said: "Tackling staff sickness is one of the Council's priorities this year and having measures in place to support the health and wellbeing of our staff is one way of doing this.
"We do have a number of services where staff come into contact with a number of people and this is how viruses spread."