Belfast Telegraph

Sickness absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service 2012/2013

Stormont Executive press release - Department of Finance and Personnel

The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) today published the report “Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service 2012/2013”.

This is their fourteenth annual report on sickness absence. It contains analyses of trends over the last five years and details the progress being made towards absence targets.

The key findings are as follows:

· The headline absence figure for 2012/2013 was 10.6 days (average days lost per staff year), up from 10.1 days in the previous year and short of the annual target of 9.5 days.

· The headline absence level represents 4.9% of the available working days in 2012/2013 and in salary terms can be equated to approximately £30.8 million of lost production.

· Staff who are retired early on medical grounds, or dismissed on the grounds of inefficiency due to sickness absence, are entitled to receive up to 13 weeks' notice. In 2012/2013 it is estimated that absences in this category contributed 0.2 of a day to the overall level of absence in the NICS.

· While more than half of staff (52.3%) had no recorded absence, over one in ten (10.4%) were absent on average for around three months (60.0 working days). These long-term absences accounted for 70.7% of the total working days lost.

· All Departments experienced increased levels of absence this year, apart from DOE and OFMDFM. The level of absence ranged from 7.8 days in OFMDFM to 12.9 days in DOJ. The biggest contribution to DOJ’s absence level was made by Prison Grade staff who were absent for an average of 16.1 days, down from 17.0 days in 2011/2012. A large part of the variation between Departments was attributable to differences in terms of their grade, gender and age profiles.

· As in previous years, the main reason for absence was Anxiety/Stress/ Depression/Other Psychiatric Illnesses. The proportion of working days lost due to illnesses of this type was 29.8%, almost one third of which were due to work related stress.

· The level of absence was lowest (7.7 days) for staff aged 16-24 and highest for staff aged 55+ (12.0 days). Older staff tended to have fewer absences, but when they were sick the illnesses tended to be of longer duration.

· The absence level of females (12.6 days) was substantially higher than that for males (8.8 days). It remained higher (11.2 days) even when Pregnancy Related Disorders were taken into account.

· Staff who had been in post for under two years had less than half the level of sickness absence (4.6 days) of staff who had been employed for two years or more (10.8 days).

The bulletin is available on the NISRA website at:[]

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