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Inquiry call over Cardiff's staff sickness

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An opposition councillor is demanding an inquiry after figures showed Cardiff Council paid out more than £52m in salary costs for sick employees over three years.

Figures requested by the Welsh Assembly’s Labour group under the Freedom of Information Act also revealed staff had taken a total of 478,166 days off sick in the three year period between 2006-07 and 2008-09.

Councillor Ramesh Patel (Labour) said: “I’m all for good practice - we should never penalise those who are definitely ill but, as with any big employer, there’s got to be a small percentage of abuse, and we’ve got to find that.

“I believe an inquiry should be carried out.”

The council said its absence rate had declined from 13.27 days per employee in 2007-08 to 12.56 days in 2008-09, following the introduction of a revised sickness absence policy.

But it warned that the swine flu pandemic could hamper attempts to reach its target rate of 11.98 days for this financial year as all staff with suspected swine flu were being advised to take four days off.

A spokesman said: “There has been considerable progress in the management of long term absence with the total number of employees absent for a period of four weeks or over falling from 697 in September 2007 to 393 in April 2009.”

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