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INNOVATIVE PILOT SCHEME AIMS TO REDUCE SICKNESS ABSENCE

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City of York Council is piloting an innovative new scheme aimed at reducing sickness absence by giving employees th...
City of York Council is piloting an innovative new scheme aimed at reducing sickness absence by giving employees the support and advice that they need to make a full and speedy recovery when illness strikes.

The pioneering initiative will be trialled in the council's adult services team from September, but, if it proves successful, could be rolled out to all departments in the future.

The scheme is run by Active Health, a private company that has offered the service to private sector organisations in this country and to local government bodies in Scandinavia, where it has proved extremely successful in slashing sickness absence.

York is the first local authority in this country to trial the scheme and, if it proves successful, it is likely that other public sector organisations will follow suit. The initial pilot phase will run for three months.

It means that instead of telephoning their manager when they are unable to attend work because of sickness, an employee will contact the Active Health call centre, where medically qualified occupational health nurses will be on hand to offer advice about how best to deal with the symptoms.

The call centre will alert the employee's manager and supply statistics about sickness absence to the council as required. Where it's appropriate, a series of follow-up telephone calls will be made by call centre staff to the employee to check on their progress and offer further advice.

Stephen Forrest, human resources services manager for the council, said: 'Studies have shown that offering people advice and support in this way means that they are able to return to work more quickly.

'Clearly, this eases the pressure on colleagues who have had to cover for them during their absence and saves the council money.

'It makes people feel more supported and helps to ensure that they are receiving the care that they need. This is something that a line manager couldn't help with because they wouldn't have the medical knowledge. We will be monitoring the trial closely to see how effective it is.'

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