Information

Civil Service employee mental health related sick leave statistics: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002


Information requested

In each of the past ten years, how many Scottish Civil Service employees have been absent from work due to mental health related conditions? Please also indicate what proportion of the total workforce this constituted in each year.

Of those absent from work, how many were on long-term sick leave in each year and what was the longest period of absence in each year?

Response

In your request, you have asked for information about Scottish Civil Service employees. Our response covers permanent staff employed in the core directorates within the Scottish Government (see Annex A for details). If you wish to obtain information about employees from other Civil Service organisations, you will need to contact those organisations directly.

You have asked for information about absences from work due to mental health related conditions over the past ten years.Information about the first part of your request is provided at Annex B. Although some of the information (covering the period January 2015 to December 2019) was already available on the Scottish Government website (see FOI request 202000013978), I have provided updated figures in response to your request. You’ll wish to note that there are very slight differences in the figures but this is because the data set is always changing as updates are applied to individual absence records and staff join or leave the organisation.

In relation to the second part of your request, we are unable to provide the information you have requested because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies to that in formation. This exemption applies because information about the longest period of absence is the personal data of a third party (the member of staff in question) and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles set out in Article 5(1) of the UK General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

I realise that we have provided this information previously but on reflection we now consider that there is a realistic prospect that the data subject could be identified. We also consider that publication of this information could impact on the individual and therefore an exemption under section 39(1) of FOISA (disclosure would, or would be likely to, endanger the physical or mental health or safety of an individual) would also apply.

For staff who have a period of ill-health, including mental ill-health, the Scottish Government has a range of support measures in place. These include access to an in-house counselling and wellbeing team; to a network of trained, in-house mental health first aiders; to a Mental Health and Wellbeing staff network group; to wellbeing support through the Charity for Civil Servants; to information on our internal intranet site about measures to support good mental health and to an Employee Assistance Service which provides confidential support and advice.

ANNEX A
Core Directorates of the Scottish Government:

  • Director-General Communities
  • Director-General Constitution and External Affairs
  • Director-General Economy
  • Director-General Education and Justice
  • Director-General Health and Social Care
  • Director-General Net Zero
  • Director-General Corporate
  • Director-General Scottish Exchequer

ANNEX B

Table 1. Directly employed SG Core staff sickness information for mental health related conditions.

Calendar Year

2012

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

2018

2019

2020

2021

Number of staff with mental health absence

261

262

280

278

369

406

476

622

648

735

Proportion of total workforce with mental health absence

 

5%

 

5%

 

5%

 

5%

 

6%

 

7%

 

7%

 

8%

 

8%

 

8%

Number of staff with long term mental health absence

87

93

98

97

117

112

147

203

193

234

For “year” we have shown complete calendar years.

We have interpreted the relevant absences to be sickness absence where the reason given is either ‘Mental Disorders’ or ‘Stress, anxiety and emotional upset’.

For “proportion of the total workforce” we have divided the number of individuals with one or more relevant sickness absence in the specified year by the total number of individuals who were employed throughout the specified year.

Long term sickness absence is any absence lasting more than 20 days.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at http://www.gov.scot/foi-responses.

Contact

Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Email: ceu@gov.scot
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG

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