Managing Sickness Absence Could Result in Savings of up to £37 Million a Year says Assembly Committee

Session: 2014/2015

Date: 21 April 2015

Reference: CFP 03/14/15

The Committee for Finance and Personnel has today (Tuesday 21 April) published its Review into Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Public Sector

Speaking after the launch of the Report, Committee Chairperson Daithí McKay, MLA said: “Our review has found that, while there was previously a downward trend in absence rates in local civil service Departments, in recent years there has been a consistent failure across the board in terms of meeting overall targets, with absence rates here remaining higher than the civil service in Britain.  

“While we were encouraged to learn that the percentage of civil servants with no recorded sickness absence throughout the year increased to more than 55% in 2013-14, long-term absence, especially due to mental ill-health remains a major concern.”  

Mr McKay continued: “This is something we must tackle as a matter of urgency. The Committee has identified that if local public sector sickness absences are brought into line with that of their equivalents in Britain, potential savings of approximately £37m per year could be made to the public purse.   

“There can be no doubt that good practice policies on preventing and managing sickness absence do already exist here. However, the Committee feels that these need to be applied much more rigorously and consistently across all government departments and the wider public sector.”  

Mr McKay concluded: “We have made a number of important and practical recommendations in our review to manage and reduce sickness absence levels locally. These include the systematic adoption of early intervention measures and the roll out of pilot health and wellbeing schemes, which have already demonstrated elsewhere, the potential to contribute to reducing absence rates.  

“It is also crucial that we continue to monitor, evaluate and further develop sickness absence policies and programmes to ensure that good practice models are current, consistent and workable.”  


Notes to Editors 

The Committee’s Review into Sickness Absence in the Northern Ireland Public Sector can be accessed on the Assembly’s website.

Find MLAs


Locate MLAs


News and Media Centre


Read press releases, watch live and archived video

Find out more

Follow the Assembly


Keep up-to-date with the Assembly

Find out more