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Sickness absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service 2015/16

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The Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA) today published the report ‘Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Civil Service 2015/2016’.

This is their seventeenth 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 2015/2016 was 11.7 days (average days lost per staff year), an increase from 10.8 days in the previous year and short of the annual target of 8.5 days.
  • The 11.7 days lost per staff year represented 5.3% of the available working days in 2015/2016 and in salary terms can be equated to an estimated £32.7 million of lost production.
  • Though half of staff had no recorded absence, over one in ten staff had at least one long-term absence spell lasting an average of nearly three months. This was the highest incidence of long-term absence in the last five years and accounted for nearly three quarters of all working days lost.
  • As in previous years, the main reason for absence was Anxiety/Stress/ Depression/Other Psychiatric Illnesses which accounted for one out of every three days lost. Just under one third of the working days lost in this illness category were recorded as work-related stress.
  • The level of absence ranged from 7.3 days for the Office of the First Minister and deputy First Minister to 15.9 days for the Department of Justice. The Department for Social Development made the biggest contribution to the overall increase in absence level for 2015/2016, accounting for almost two thirds of the rise.
  • The absence level of females (13.5 days) remained higher than that for males (10.0 days). Almost two thirds of this difference was due to gender-specific absences.
  • Staff who had been in post for under two years, around two fifths of whom would have been on probationary terms and conditions, had a much lower level of sickness absence (4.3 days) than staff who had been employed for two years or more (11.8 days).

The report is available on the NISRA website at: www.nisra.gov.uk/publications/Sickness_in_the_NICS.html

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