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Publication - FOI/EIR release

Stress and absenteeism in public sector: FOI release

Published: 5 Mar 2018
Directorate:
People Directorate
Part of:
Public sector

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

Published:
5 Mar 2018
Stress and absenteeism in public sector: FOI release

FOI reference: FOI/18/00462
Date received: 12 February 2018
Date responded: 1 March 2018

Information requested

  • Are there any statistics available regarding patterns in Civil Service stress and absenteeism levels in Scotland, over the last ten years say?

  • Does the Scottish Government currently endorse the use of lifelong Communication Bans or Note and File Only Orders, or is there any record of it having done so in the past? If so, approximately how many of each are still in operation?

  • Was Performance Related Pay ever at any time utilised in the Scottish Government, and if so between what years? Were any notes kept on the reasons for its abandonment?

Response

Are there any statistics available regarding patterns in Civil Service stress and absenteeism levels in Scotland, over the last ten years say?

There are no statistics available for stress absence levels for the UK Civil Service in Scotland.

Our response therefore covers staff who are employed in the Core Directorates and who are subject to Scottish Government Main and Scottish Government Marine terms and conditions of employment. It also covers Senior Civil Servants working in those areas.

The information requested is detailed below. It includes sickness absence expressed as Average Working Days Lost per Full Time Equivalent member of staff (AWDL/FTE), which allows comparisons between organisations of different sizes and across years when headcount fluctuations would lead to variations in total sickness absence.

The Scottish Government has arrangements in place to closely monitor sickness absence levels to ensure that appropriate action is taken both to help reduce overall absence rates among employees and to support individual members of staff during periods of ill-health.

Scottish Government overall sickness levels of 7.4 days (Jan-Dec 2017) per full time equivalent employee per year remain lower than the average levels for public services (9.8) and for all sectors (7.5) as reported by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development (CIPD) 2016 annual absence survey.

The following definitions may be of aid in interpreting this information:

Scaled Sick Days: number of working days absence in the last 12 months, i.e. calculations exclude weekends and public and privilege holidays from the period of sickness. A weighting is also applied to spells over 125 working days to account for annual leave not taken and subtracts this, pro rata, from the number of days off sick (assumes a working year of 225 days). Includes all lengths of absence.

Staff Years: This is a decimal representation of the staff employed over the 12 month period, taking into account part-time hours and length of employment. e.g. 0.5 staff years could either represent a full year of 18.5 hours per week or 6 months working as a full time employee, or a combination of part-time and part-year.

AWDL / FTE: Average working days lost / full-time equivalent. Scaled sick days divided by total staff years. Gives comparable figures for any size or level of organisational unit.

Table 1. Average Working Days Lost (AWDL) for the rolling 12 month period Jan-Dec for the last 8 years, including a breakdown of the average working days lost due to stress, anxiety and emotional upset (this includes both work related and non-work related stress absences).

Year AWDL AWDL stress, anxiety and emotional upset
2011 6.3 0.6
2012 6.8 0.7
2013 6.7 0.8
2014 7.0 1.1
2015 7.4 1.1
2016 7.4 1.1
2017 7.4 1.0

Does the Scottish Government currently endorse the use of lifelong Communication Bans or Note and File Only Orders, or is there any record of it having done so in the past? If so, approximately how many of each are still in operation?

The Scottish Government have an Unacceptable Actions Policy (see link below) providing clarity on acceptable behaviour in communication and engagement with people. It provides guidance on how to restrict or limit communication where dialogue is no longer appropriate. Any decision to limit or restrict contact is taken and recorded locally by the respective team or division across the Scottish Government.

http://www.gov.scot/Contacts/Have-Your-Say/unacceptablebehaviour

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested in relation to how many Communication Bans or Note and File Only Orders are still in operation because an exemption(s) under section(s) 12 of FOISA applies to that information.

In this instance the costs of locating, retrieving and providing the information requested would exceed the upper cost limit of £600. The reason for this is that to locate and retrieve that information we would need to conduct a search of all of the records of the Scottish Government. It may help if I explain that we file our information according to the subject matter, not by reference to the names of individuals/organisations with whom we have corresponded. Under section 12 of FOISA public authorities are not required to comply with a request for information if the authority estimates that the cost of complying would exceed the upper cost limit, which is currently set at £600 by Regulations made under section 12.

You may, however, wish to consider reducing the scope of your request in order that the costs can be brought below £600. For example, you could specify the subject matter(s) of the subject you are interested in or restrict your request to a specific business area of the Scottish Government, as this would allow us to limit the searches that would require to be conducted. You may also find it helpful to look at the Scottish Information Commissioner's 'Tips for requesting information under FOI and the EIRs' on his website at:

http://www.itspublicknowledge.info/YourRights/Tipsforrequesters.aspx.

Was Performance Related Pay ever at any time utilised in the Scottish Government, and if so between what years? Were any notes kept on the reasons for its abandonment?

Annual Pay Policy documents and accompanying Technical Guides are available at: www.gov.scot/publicsectorpay.

For staff below Senior Civil Service (SCS) performance payments (i.e. bonuses) ceased in 2010. Scottish Ministers' Pay Policy has suspended non-consolidated payments for performance since 2011-12.

For the SCS, pay is reserved and operates within the UK Cabinet Office pay and performance management framework. Non-consolidated performance awards have formed part of this framework since the creation of the current SCS pay system in 2001. The Scottish Government awarded non-consolidated performance payments from 2001 until 2010. However these payments to senior staff, unless there was a contractual entitlement, were stopped in 2011.

Paragraph 6 of the Scottish Public Sector Pay Policy for 2011/12 provides the reasons for this change.

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 Andrew's House
Regent Road
Edinburgh
EH1 3DG