4. Sickness absence of directly employed staff
4.1 Table 3 and Chart 3 show the sickness absence reported by Scottish Government directly employed staff. Sickness absence is reported in 12 month periods, ending in each quarter. The Scottish Government records all sickness absences of its directly employed workers. Sickness absence for those staff who left in the 12 month period are also included. Sickness absences of non-directly employed workers are not recorded.
4.2 There are two methods of measuring sickness absence that are used in Table 3, which are average working days lost per staff year (AWDL), and percentage of working days lost. Sickness absences are measured across a rolling year to reduce the effect of seasonal variation in the data caused by seasonal illnesses, such as influenza. However, a particularly virulent illness that caused a large number of absences in a particular quarter would show as raised sickness levels in each of the 12 month periods that contained this quarter.
4.3 Average working days lost per staff year (AWDL) is the total number of working days lost, divided by the number of staff years. Only working days are counted, so calculations exclude weekends and public and privilege holidays from the period of sickness. A staff year takes into account part-time working and if a member of staff only worked part of a year. A full time member of staff in post for the whole year period is assigned a staff year of 1. If a part-time member of staff works half of the number of hours in a standard 37 hour week, their staff year would be 0.5. If that member of staff only worked half of the year period, for example, they were recruited part way through the period, then their staff year would be halved further, to give a staff year of 0.25.
Chart 3 AWDL Sickness absence of directly employed staff
4.4 The all absences AWDL is the average working days lost per staff year for all sickness absences, including both long and short term spells of absences (Chart 3 and Table 3). A weighting is applied to spells over 125 working days to account for annual leave not taken, and is subtracted, pro rata, from the number of days off sick. This assumes a working year of 225 days (unless a leap year) for full time staff employed for the full year period. The AWDL for all absences has been generally rising in the four years presented, and has risen by 1.1 days, from 6.3 in the period ending in March 2012 to a high of 7.4 in the periods ending in September and December 2015. The rise in all absences AWDL can be attributed to the general increase in long term absences (greater than 20 days - see section 4.6). However, the high levels of short term AWDL in the periods ending in 2015 (see section 4.5) have also contributed to the high all absences AWDL in 2015. The figure of 7.4 compares to a value of 9.0 AWDL reported for those working in central government in the UK in 2015 by the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD) in Table 2 on page 9 of their Absence Management 2015 Annual Survey Report.
4.5 The short term AWDL is the average working days lost per staff year for spells of sickness absences of 20 days or less (Chart 3 and Table 3). The short term AWDL has fluctuated over the 4 years presented, with no clear directional trend, except the periods ending in 2015 have been consistently high. It will be possible to tell in the longer term if there was a general upwards trend in 2015, or if it was a fluctuation. The short term AWDL has varied by 0.5 days in the four years presented, from a low of 3.3 at the period ending in June 2014, to a high of 3.8 in the periods ending in June and September in 2015. Fluctuations may be caused by particularly virulent illnesses, such as influenza, in particular year periods, which increase the short-term AWDL. The fluctuations may also be a result of changes in attendance management policy or practice.
4.6 The long term AWDL is the average working days lost per staff year for spells of sickness absences of more than 20 days (Chart 3 and Table 3). A weighting is applied to spells over 125 working days to account for annual leave not taken (see section 4.4). The long term AWDL has generally been increasing over the four years presented, increasing by 0.7 days, from 2.9 in the period ending March 2012, to 3.6 in the most recent period ending December 2015. The long term AWDL is generally lower than the short term AWDL.
4.7 The percentage of working days lost is the percentage of the total number of working days lost due to sickness absences for all directly employed staff, out of the total working days available during the year for all directly employed staff. As with AWDL, this takes working patterns into account. A part time member of staff that works half the hours of standard 37 hour week, is available for half of the working days of a full time member of staff in a year period. The percentage of working days is a different way of expressing the same sickness data as the AWDL. Therefore, the percentage of working days lost follows the same trend as the total AWDL, showing a general increase over the past 4 years. The percentage of working days lost increased by half a percentage point, from 2.8 in the period ending March 2012, to 3.3 in the period ending December 2015.
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